‘The videos keep them smiling’

Videos and online activities can be found on Facebook page “Stroming de MFC”. Picture, photograph and videos: Hans Huiting.

Groningen’s Multifunctional Centre (MFC) De Stroming does everything it can to make their visitors happy: previously, when they came to the community centre, now when they visit the Facebook page.

All community centres in Groningen had to close in response to the current lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Normally, older people come in for their daily chat and students play along with the bingo. People with special needs are able to help organise or can participate in the activities, ranging from painting like Bob Ross to Ukulele lessons.

Nowadays, the bingo is held online. Photograph: Hans Huiting.

Prior to the lockdown everyone was welcome in the community centres, but now no one can come in. People can only get take-away food. However, the much-needed contact is not included. Hans Huiting, the man behind the Facebook page of MFC De Stroming, hears from people how lonely they are. One visitor told him that everyday the blinds are pulled up half a meter, which is the person’s only view of the world.

“If we cannot do it in real-life, then we just try other things.” With this motto Hans Huiting got to work. The movies appeared to be a convenient way to keep in contact and to get a response. “It is really cool to see how many people react and call us. We have 200 views!”

Online workshop in decorating stones. Hans Huiting also shows his own creations. Video: Hans Huiting.

One of the people who responses often is Martha van den Oever. She misses cooking for the community centre’s visitors on Thursday. Van den Oever would like to get more contact with her friends from MFC De Stroming, but her WhatsApp groups are not very active. “People get tired of trying to write something, when they are doing nothing during the lockdown.”

But the movies give them something to write about. Hans has so much fantasy, explains Van den Oever. She wonders how he comes up with all the ideas. Like the microwave with two eyes that made her roar with laughter.

The happy microwave. Picture sent by Hans Huiting.

To make all people familiar with the possibilities online, MFC de Stroming gives computer lessons and has a help desk.

Other community centres are encouraged by Hans Huiting to post videos as well to reach as many people as possible. However, he has no tips for them. “Because just look around you, the most enjoyable things are very near.”

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