The Hague joined the World Health Organization’s network of age-friendly cities in 2014. The municipality regularly launches monitoring discussions to investigate how older people experience their neighbourhoods. There is a focus on a different issue on each occasion. The recent monitoring was on ”safety”.
Workshops were held in various districts of The Hague, organised by The Hague University of Applied Sciences. In Transvaal, the workshop was linked to the Dreamlike Neighbourhood group in the community centre Mandelaplein. The neighbourhood group mainly consists of men with a Moroccan migration background. As the participants do not speak Dutch very well, an interpreter was present.
To encourage a lively discussion, the researchers prepared some key questions on participants’ general perspectives, their experiences and possible solutions to make the neighbourhood safer. The open and low-threshold format encouraged participants to share their experiences and ideas. The following issues were discussed: safety at home, safety in public spaces and pollution of streets. Furthermore, participants also made suggestions, such as possibilities to report crimes and vandalism anonymously or information and trainings on safety issues in community centres, mosques or coffeehouses. They also suggested joint walks with representatives of the city, the police and older people. In this way, certain issues and possible solutions could be discussed directly on the spot. Participants indicated that they would like to be visible in the neighbourhood as “helpers” to keep the neighbourhood liveable, for example with a logo visible on their jacket.
While the workshop was a good opportunity for the community to gather information and feedback from older people, it also allowed the municipality to reassure older people that their opinion counts and is valued.