TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs respond to COVID-19: the Netherlands

In March 2020, when COVID19 began to sweep across Europe, services provided to children, families, and communities were heavily impacted. Physical distancing has exacerbated many issues present in communities across the globe, from the lack of access to technology for many families to violence within homes.

The measures that were taken across Europe, and elsewhere, are impacting all aspects of life. TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs are no exception, but their quick mobilization and innovative practices have meant that staff members are still reaching out and engaging with the community even without the physical space the Play Hubs normally are housed in.

TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs, which operate in 8 countries to provide inclusive spaces for young children and their families, have continued to support them through flexible solutions. The Local Action Teams tasked with operating the 15 Play Hubs under this project have sprung into action to adjust activities to address community challenges, often ways formal services haven’t been able to. The work of these teams has continued and, in many cases, intensified.

Due to their unique and well-established position within communities, they are a trusted resource and support system for families that are facing any number of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic shines a light on the essential elements of the TOY for Inclusion project – intersectoral work as a way to address complex issues, innovative and flexible solutions tailored to communities and the development of inclusive and easy to reach services.

Each partner has demonstrated quick thinking, creativity and commitment to the work they do. In the coming weeks, TOY partners will share insights into their response efforts. Here, we share the response from the Netherlands.

On March 15th it was announced that the schools would be closed. Now, in May, measures are being re-evaluated across the country.

The Play Hub in Enschede is hoping to open in the following weeks.

The Local Action Team in the Netherlands has created a “padlet” (webpage) in order to share activities. They are hoping to build stronger connections with community members; which has proven difficult during the pandemic. The staff has shared 50 packages including Play-Doh and bubbles with 15 families as a way to reach families during the Play Hub closure.