Making a difference with a CoffeE

Become a volunteer

Our work at the Overweeghuis is only possible thanks to our amazing volunteers!

As a volunteer, you are the contact person and safety net for the residents. At times you may provide practical help or you are there to support the women who are going through a special process. Your supporting role can change: sometimes you may be taking the role of a house mate, a friend, or the role of an ‘auntie’ for the women, depending on what the women and what you can offer. Being a volunteer is a meaningful experience within a dynamic and diverse environment. Together with a close-knit team, you can make a big difference for women who got stuck in prostitution.

Frequently asked questions

As a hostess you are the social point of contact for the residents during your shift.

  • You drink a cup of coffee with them, you are a listening ear.
  • Ensure a good atmosphere and social safety in the house.
  • In addition, you support the women where necessary with small matters such as applying for jobs, household tasks in the house.
  • In the afternoon shift there is room for creating an activity.
  • In the evening shift you are responsible for preparing the meal together with the residents.

We ask your commitment for one shift per week. You can schedule your shifts in our planning system. The times of the services are as follows:

  • Morning: 08.45 – 13.00
  • Afternoon: 12:45 – 17:00
  • Evening: 16:45 – 22:00
  • Night: 21:45 – 09:00
  • Being a people person (friendly, reliable, patient and able to create a safe space).
  • Being involved and empathic.
  • Self-confidence (remain calm and keep an overview during busy and difficult moments).
  • Being able to stand your ground and having clear boundaries.
  • Willing to learn and receive feedback.
  • Being open minded. 
  • Working with an interesting and diverse people who are in midst of an important process in their life.
  • You learn a lot, also about yourself, what works, and what doesn’t work in communication, management and supporting others.
  • Making a difference in the lives of these special women.
  • No shift is the same. Except that you will start with a 15 minute overlap with the volunteer who worked the shift before you. There is a handover of important matters and you can read the latest developments in the reports written by other volunteers.
  • Sometimes it is quiet in the house, the residents are outside or in their room. Sometimes there is a lot going on and you are engaged in several  conversations throughout the shift. When it’s quiet and the basic tasks have been done, there is room for a book or your study.
  • During the morning shift, the residents are woken up around 10:00 A.M. for a cup of coffee/tea.
  • In the afternoon shift, the residents are often more active and there are practical matters for which they can use your support.
  • During the evening shift you and the residents are responsible for making dinner.

The night shift is a special service. This service starts at 21:45. Sometimes women play games or watch a movie; other times the residents are in their own room. At 23:00 all residents must be inside and the alarm on the doors turns on. You can get yourself ready for the night and make your bed. If there are no urgent matters or particularities, you can go to sleep just after 23:00.

Some times are quiet and you can sleep all night. The residents often have a different day / night rhythm than you may have. So if they are still some unresolved practical or emotional matters they cannot resolve themselves, you are the first point of contact.

You are not alone, there is always a backup that is just a phone call away to support and advise you.

The Overweeghuis team consisting of a network of women committed to the initiative is large. In addition to the group of volunteers, two project supporters from the Salvation Army are active within the Overweeghuis. They support the women in their journeys: arranging health insurance, registering with a professional healthcare institution or finding a new place to live.

There is a volunteer coordinator who wants to support you as a volunteer as best as possible in the volunteer work you do. Together with the project supporters, the volunteer coordinator organizes themed evenings, cozy get-togethers and practical matters that are necessary for you to be able to carry out your volunteer work properly.

In addition, there is a back-up service available 24 hours a day to support you with questions/situations that you cannot resolve yourself, or that you want to discuss.

You also have each other as volunteers! We are a citizens’ initiative, we believe that together we can create a place where we can realise a safe shelter for women who get stuck in prostitution. We have already been able to help many women by working together and supporting each other.

There is a compensation of €40 per night for the night shift.
For volunteers outside Groningen there is a reimbursement for the travel expenses included.

Many women have an international background. This results in a colorful collection of languages and cultures in the house. In addition to Dutch and English, many other languages are being spoken. From Spanish to Russian to Romanian – anything is possible. Most ladies can speak English or Dutch well. But sometimes you work with your hands and feet, or Google Translate to communicate with each other. 

To be able to do the work that the residents have done, drugs are often used. Quitting the job and then starting a new and different life is a big step. The Overweeghuis is a unique place that offers space for shelter while residents have not yet stopped their addiction habits. We know this is not an ideal situation and it brings many challenges.
We hope to give the women a stable basis in this house, so we can work from here in taking the next step, such as registration at a rehab clinic and bridging the waiting time in between. 

In the garden is a shed where women are allowed to use. The are not allowed to use in the house.  The project supporters make agreements with the women about the drugs and monitor it.

Volunteers do not need to know a lot about drugs. What you encounter in daily practice as a volunteer is that residents find it challenging to keep a good day/night rhythm. Appointments can also easily be forgotten and the residents are easily distracted. These are challenges that you as a volunteer have to find your way through.

We ask you as a volunteer to be available one shift per week for the Overweeghuis (dayshifts: 4hr on average; night shift: 11 hr on average).  This way you can get to know the residents and build a bond. Conversely, it gives us reassurance and the knowledge that we can complete the planning every week together.

You have the freedom to choose your shifts via a roster app. 

So nice that you want to apply! We would love to get to get in touch with you.

You can register using this form. We will then contact you by phone. If we both feel good after the conversation, you will be scheduled in an informal training shift where another volunteer will show you the house and give you all the information. 

Because we have many volunteers with different backgrounds, there is a flow of people coming and leaving. So we are always looking for new volunteers.

During the summer holidays and Christmas holidays, the ‘regular’ volunteers are not always available. That is why you can also work as a holiday volunteer to support us during these periods.

The buddy project aims to link women from the Overweeghuis who have left prostitution or want to rebuild their lives with a volunteer who assists them in becoming independent and expanding their network.

This will increase the women’s self-reliance in their new context. A different network is essential for successfully building a new life. Volunteers support the women in forming a social network in the place where they live. Together they form a buddy couple.