Warming up in your communal neighbourhood centre

For students who are shivering in their rooms because of the high energy prices, Groningen’s community centres offer a warm respite and a cheap meal. 

In one of the classrooms of the former school building at the Van Oldenbarneveltlaan 6, people are making music and philosophy student Jackson is dancing to their tune. He doesn’t do it to warm up, though, because the heating is on. It’s off in his own student room, though: since the energy prices are so high, he prefers to save money by hanging out here, at the EdanZ community centre.

That’s exactly the goal of the Warme winter in de wijk (warm winter in the neighbourhood) project: it wants to provide a place for students and other neighbourhood residents to study, work, talk, and relax for free, and eat at low prices. This way, the organisers hope to help people combat  the negative effects of the increasing food and utility prices. 

Cheap meals

‘I come here quite often,  mainly because of the people’, Jackson says. ‘The community here is incredible and so is the food.’ The building has spacious rooms with places to sit and eat. In the evening, the smell of food from the kitchen of the Sangha Café invites students to fill up their plates. 

‘A lot of people don’t know that this kind of help exists’, says Sina, an Iranian third-year student of international business who is involved with the Sangha Café organisation. The food is paid for on a donation basis and costs 2.75 euros or less. The menu is varied and has vegan, vegetarian, and halal options, among others. 

‘Many students have been hit hard by the energy crisis and rising prices’, Sina says. ‘Hopefully this gives them and others a chance to turn off their heating, share a cheap meal and save some money.’

Energy coaches

According to Sina, international students especially don’t know where to find aid when they need it. The help at Sangha Café goes beyond a good meal and warmth. You can talk to energy coaches who give tips and tricks on how to keep your house warm while saving energy, and you can get advice on the Dutch financial system.

‘We’re here to help, but we also want to encourage people to just come and have some fun with their fellow neighbours’, Sina says. Jackson will definitely be coming back for more. ‘It feels like my second family’, he says.

The Warme winter in de wijk project will continue until February 28 and also takes place at Floreshuis (Korrewegwijk), BSV de Hoogte (De Hoogte) and Het Pand (Indische Buurt).  


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