Teens muscle in on seniors’ hang-out
7 August 2006
AMSTERDAM — The official meeting place for senior citizens in the town of Oude Pekela in the north of the Netherlands has been taken over by the local youth.
Jan Romme, director of the national senior citizens fund, confirmed on Monday that the hang-out is in a run down state. Piles of rubbish and cigarette butts are building up and the bench has graffiti on it, with texts such as ‘geile beer’ (lecher).
The meeting place was announced in March with much fan fair to enable older people to socialise after the local supermarket introduced a general ban on groups gathering there.
After it was unveiled, a number of shopkeepers moved the ‘hang-out’ bench to a darker and less attractive corner of the shopping centre. Despite this, it was originally a great success. But as the weather became warmer the seniors made less and less use of the bench as a meeting place. This was a cue for teenagers to claim the place as their own.
“I am convinced the need for it (among older people) will increase once the weather turns,” Romme said. He plans to talk to the management of the shopping centre in order to find a solution. As far as his organisation is concerned, the bench should be cleaned up and returned to its original place.
“Otherwise we will move the bench to a city in the Netherlands where the initiative is actually appreciated,” he said.
Several cities, including Eindhoven and Almere, have already set up meeting places for seniors. The Labour Party (PvdA) said it will support the idea its election manifesto.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news