Social contact is one of the most important indicators for self-perceived health according to the Urban Health Policy of the municipality of Utrecht. Creating a social environment where people can meet, interact, and learn from each other’s experiences, is one of the basic elements that promote citizen’s well-being.
When diversity becomes a way to inspire and support each other, people prosper and make the best version of themselves. This is what Place2BU is about.
Healthy Urban living for everyone:
In 2017, the residential project Place2BU saw the light aiming to provide around 500 young people in Utrecht a new living experience. The project is a collaboration between the two-housing cooperation, Mitros and Portal as well as other local NGO’s like the salvation army.
The municipality of Utrecht has also supported the project with subsidy to build a central building that include a common living room where residents can meet and socialize together. Place2BU is an inclusive residential project where young people from different backgrounds live together. Young people, status holders and people who need a place to reintegrate into the society again such as formerly homeless people, are all neighbours.
Place2BU is an opportunity for young people to live in a social environment that promote social contacts and interactions with others.“Place2BU gives me the opportunity to know new people, learn about new cultures and help other people who have social problems”. (Rick, 23 years old).
New residents are connected to people who already live in place2BU through a buddy system in order to welcome them and help them get in contact with other neighbours It goes even far beyond this as Karen, 28 years old, one of the residents of Place2BU, said that: “I helped a guy through our Facebook page who needed some support in applying for a photography study…I am a graphic designer, so I helped him”.
Shared living concept
In place2BU, a board of volunteers are in charge of organising the community and plan different activities such as dinners, parties, and language café for refugees. There is a central space in the middle of the four residential buildings for the whole community to meet and be part of various social activities.
Place2BU allows people to make the desired balance between their private life and social life. Every resident has her/his own studio as well as a common space in every floor where residents can study, eat and socialize together. “The good thing is that you have your own space. If you need social contact is also available for you” (Karen, 28 years old).
Learning from challenges
Challenges are always part of growing and learning. In place2BU some people are more motivated and enthusiastic than others. Motivating people to come to social activities is not easy all the time. According to Stijn, the former project supervisor assigned by the municipality of Utrecht: “sometimes it is difficult to motivate people and get them into activities, but it is a process, it needs time… We actively make sure that people are invited for a couple of activities”.
Place2BU is not only a place to live in, but it is also a community for individuals from all different backgrounds where they can support and learn from each other.