Doing something fun together was not possible for visitors to the community centre De Meerpaal in Strijp. With the relaxation, the missed fun returns.
“Alone you can do a lot; together you can do everything”.
The words above, hang like a kind of life motto on the wall of the community centre De Meerpaal in Strijp. ‘Can do together‘ has of course been out of the question for a long time, precisely the last two years. There was almost no activity. Trudy van Helmond, chairman of the Eindhoven KBO (senior association) and driving force behind the activity program at De Meerpaal sums up: “We eat together, we bake sausage rolls together, we take walks, play shuffleboard, cry and laugh. We do everything together here. But there was a pause throughout until recently.”
Jan Cuppens, who was a regular visitor to De Meerpaal together with his partner for as long as he could, has mostly seen only the walls of his own apartment complex in recent times. “That coffee hour downstairs in the group room will eventually get boring. The same faces with the same stories every time. And you can go shopping, but then you always have to be back early, because you have to go to the toilet”. The elderly did not receive many visitors in corona time, even when allowed. “At my age, you don’t have many friends left”, sighs Riet van den Brand. “They are all dead already.
The Wednesday afternoon ‘sports memory’ is on the agenda. Old sports heroes and historical sports fragments are shown in photos and films, which evoke fond memories among the elderly. The dramatic World Cup qualifier between the Netherlands and Austria in 1957, for example. Or the fall of Wim van Est in the Tour de France of 1951. The tongues happily wag again in De Meerpaal. Van Helmond: “This is the best thing there is: being together physically. Being able to look each other in the eye, give a pat on the back. We missed that very much.” Nevertheless, the KBO chairman is wary of too much optimism; as she has learned from the previous relaxations that eventually turned into a new lockdown: Please let’s be careful. The longer we can keep it open is good for all of us”