The Hague has more than 50 local or community organizations in which local residents are active in their own particular community as volunteers. Our area too, the districts Archipelbuurt & Willemspark, has had just such an association of volunteers for 40 years:
the Bewonersorganisatie Archipel & Willemspark (Community Association A&W).
Around 90 residents are involved in the fortunes of our community as board members, members of working groups or short-term projects. The social sofa (located next to the Cafe Banka) was just such a project completed by Dutch and expat locals.
Working groups include the editorial staff on the local newspaper and the website with its electronic newsletter, the team that runs the digital billboard located in Albert Heijn and Citronics and committed locals determined to improve the traffic situation, promote sustainability, stay alert to urban planning and preserve the public space and the green areas (Scheveningen Woods and van Repelaer Park) in the A&W. Legal advisers, distributors of the newspaper, the Community Festivities Committee and the care and well-being group also play an important role in this effort to improve the quality of life in our community. We are all volunteers.
The members of the executive board represent the district in the public arena, and it is their job to provide encouragement, support and promote a sense of harmony in the community. As well as meeting once a month, the board convenes the public Community Council meetings five times a year in the Klokhuis Community Centre. During these meetings representatives of many local groups and organisations (including the local police service and city council) and individual residents have a chance to air their concerns. These meetings provide an extremely productive platform for the exchange of ideas and views about the different activities and the development of new initiatives. The minutes of each meeting are published on this website.
Until 2011, community organisations had to submit an annual strategy paper and an annual report on the previous year’s activities every two years to the city council in order to receive the necessary subsidies. This system has now been replaced by a reduced basic subsidy and the allocation of subsidies for specific projects (e.g. working group activities). Details concerning requirements for project reports have not yet been made public by the city council.