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Wat levert een training voor voedselbankklanten op? Bevindingen uit een kwalitatieve studie

Authors:

Hille Hoogland ,

Hille Hoogland, MSc is a medical anthropologist and conducting an external PhD research about food bank clients in Amsterdam and the effects of participation in a training for food bank clients. She also works as a project manager at De Regenboog Groep, an organization with a mission to reduce social poverty in Amsterdam.
About Hille

Hille Hoogland, MSc is a medical anthropologist and conducting an external PhD research about food bank clients in Amsterdam and the effects of participation in a training for food bank clients. She also works as a project manager at De Regenboog Groep, an organization with a mission to reduce social poverty in Amsterdam.

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Dorien Mul

Dorien Mul, MSc is a medical anthropologist. She works as project-assistant at De Regenboog Groep. She also works as a researcher in the field of social poverty.
About Dorien

Dorien Mul, MSc is a medical anthropologist. She works as project-assistant at De Regenboog Groep. She also works as a researcher in the field of social poverty.

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Abstract

SUMMARY

What are the results of a training programme for food bank clients? Findings from a qualitative study
Fifteen years ago, the concept of the food bank was introduced into the Netherlands. Since that time, food banks have been distributing food parcels to Dutch citizens who are eligible for support according to the criteria of the Dutch Food Bank. Food bank clients often experience problems on multiple levels. Not only do they have financial problems, but they also report problems relating to their physical and mental health. Rather than aiming to address the causes of the problems experienced by their target group, food banks were initially established with the mission of combatting food waste. The role of food banks in societies has been critically analysed in a number of international studies. It is argued that the existence of food banks reflects failures in government policies to prevent poverty. The training programme Op Eigen Krachttraining was developed for food bank clients living in Amsterdam, based on the notion that providing food alone will not help food bank clients to address the issues that they are living with. The training programme has five main goals in relation to food bank clients: improved financial self-reliance; social activation and lower levels of social isolation; improved knowledge of social services and activities; improved self-esteem and assertiveness; and greater awareness of health issues. These five objectives were established following consultation with the trainers and incorporated into the training programme, which encompasses ten weekly meetings of two hours. During these meetings, there is also time for participants to share experiences and information with each other.

In order to assess what the results are of the training programme, a qualitative evaluation study was conducted. In this article we present findings of that evaluation. The main question that is answered in this article is: what have the results of participating in the Op Eigen Krachttraining been for food bank clients? Research into the effects of interventions involving food bank clients is scarce, and the findings may help to expand our knowledge of their effectiveness. Additionally, research into the effects of interventions that aim to improve financial self-reliance is limited within the Dutch context, so the findings of this study may also help to improve interventions for people experiencing financial problems.

The findings presented in this article are the result of an evaluation study conducted between 2012 and 2015, involving interviews conducted at three different points in time with fifteen participants from five different training groups, interviews with trainers and observations during each training programme. The research was conducted by the first author and four trainees, who were university students. The evaluation study is based on the “Theory of Change method”, a participative and qualitative research method developed by Carol Weiss (1995). This method involves discovering the main purposes of the intervention, collecting data within the field for evaluation of the intervention and using the findings to improve the programme of the intervention under evaluation.

In order to compare the findings of this evaluation study, we searched for other interventions that had been evaluated and that had consisted of similar aspects as the Op Eigen Krachttraining. We identified two evaluated interventions for food bank clients. The first intervention was a Dutch course for food bank clients, developed and evaluated by Movisie. The course is comparable to Op Eigen Krachttraining, since it also aims to stimulate social activation, reduce social isolation and promote health awareness. The second intervention was the Australian programme “Food Sensations”, which targets, among others, food bank clients. The aim of this programme is to improve the health of participants, which is similar to one aspect of the Op Eigen Krachttraining. The “Food Sensations” intervention was evaluated using a scientific evaluation study.

Our findings show that participation in the training programme seems to have five positive outcomes. Firstly, participants improve their knowledge of financial matters, such as financial facilities and allowances. Our respondents reported that sharing information and tips about managing a budget enabled them to spend more wisely. Secondly, taking part in the training programme led to social ties between our respondents, which can help to reduce perceived social isolation. Sensing that one belongs and is being supported by other participants contributes to a feeling of social connectedness. The training sessions provided a welcome structure to the weekly routine of our respondents. Thirdly, respondents reported that the shared information and tips about social services and activities were useful. However, knowing where to ask for help is not enough. Respondents mentioned the difficulty of asking for help due to a lack of confidence in social services or because they believe that they should deal with their problems by themselves. Fourthly, participation in the training led to a greater awareness of the importance of a healthy diet. Some respondents mentioned that this increased awareness encouraged them to change their diet. Lastly, our findings show that all respondents perceived their participation in the training positively. It had a positive effect on their well-being and they reported a more positive mind set and increased self-confidence. We see this latter outcome as an important “bycatch” for the training programme, since food bank clients are more likely to experience mental health problems due to their precarious financial situation. 

In conclusion, we make two recommendations. First, we would argue that interventions for food bank clients should not solely be designed to increase the knowledge of participants, but should also stimulate and improve trust in others and self-confidence. Financial problems are often associated with mental health problems and high levels of mistrust. Negative self-image and mistrust of others can prevent people from asking for help or taking action. Interventions such as training programmes involving multiple participants can be an appropriate way to focus on stimulating feelings of trust and self-confidence. Creating a space for participants to share their experiences and ideas is crucial. Sharing experiences with others make people feel heard and supported. At the same time, people can learn from each other by sharing their experiences. Listening to the experiences of others can also help to put one’s own experiences into perspective. Second, we recommend the “Theory of Change” as a suitable research method for studying the effects of an intervention. Applying this evaluation method helps people to study the effects of an intervention and at the same time to improve the intervention based on research findings. When the focus is on the participants’ experiences of the intervention in question, it is possible to identify the needs of the target group better. Subsequent intervention can then be more accurately tailored to the needs of the target group.


SAMENVATTING

Wat levert een training voor voedselbankklanten op? Bevindingen uit een kwalitatieve studie
Voedselbanken delen in Nederland al vijftien jaar voedselpakketten uit aan mensen die kampen met financiële problemen en daarnaast gezondheidsproblemen en “psychologisch lijden” ervaren. In Amsterdam is voor voedselbankklanten een trainingsprogramma ontwikkeld met het doel hen zoveel mogelijk “op eigen benen te laten staan”. Om te achterhalen wat de training teweeg brengt is een kwalitatieve studie gedaan op basis van de “Theory of Change”-methode. In dit artikel presenteren wij bevindingen uit interviews met vijftien respondenten, die per respondent zijn gehouden op drie verschillende momenten; gesprekken met trainers en observaties bij vijf trainingsgroepen. De inzichten kunnen bijdragen aan het vergroten van de kennis over interventies voor voedselbankklanten en gebruikt worden voor kwaliteitsverbetering.

De centrale vraag die wij in dit artikel beantwoorden is: wat levert deelname aan de Op Eigen Krachttraining op voor voedselbankklanten? De opbrengst van de training wordt bekeken in termen van vijf doelgebieden, die door de trainers benoemd zijn en onderdeel vormen van het trainingsprogramma: financiële zelfredzaamheid; sociale activering en verminderen van sociaal isolement; sociale kaart; eigenwaarde en assertiviteit en gezondheid. Dit onderzoek richt zich op de resultaten voor deelnemers aan de hand van deze vijf doelgebieden. De resultaten zijn vergeleken met bevindingen uit evaluaties van vergelijkbare interventies voor voedselbankklanten. Uit deze studie komen vijf resultaten naar voren. Ten eerste is er sprake van toename van kennis over financiële zaken en van verandering van het omgaan met het beschikbare budget. Ten tweede verbindt de training deelnemers met elkaar en levert het sociale contacten en steun op. Dit komt tevens naar voren uit de evaluatie van een cursus voor voedselbankklanten buiten Amsterdam. Ten derde is er een toename van kennis over de sociale kaart, maar blijkt het voor respondenten moeilijk te zijn om deze kennis toe te passen vanwege een beperkt vertrouwen in zichzelf of in de omgeving. Ten vierde is er een groter bewustzijn over gezonde voeding, zoals ook het resultaat is van een Australisch gezondheidsprogramma. Tenslotte ervaren alle respondenten de training als positief en zien we als “bijvangst” dat de training een positief effect heeft op hun welbevinden.  

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.550
How to Cite: Hoogland, H. & Mul, D., (2017). Wat levert een training voor voedselbankklanten op? Bevindingen uit een kwalitatieve studie. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice. 26(4), pp.28–46. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.550
Published on 19 Dec 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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