Origin Pol Depreitere worked for forthy years as a psychomotor therapist in a hospital for mental health where he truly connected with patients and staff. When it was time for him to retire he still had the urge to keep relating with them. Pol started thinking about the possibilities on how to stay seeing the people in a more informal setting. Thats why he founded Pol Parol, a café where patients, locals, students and staff could enjoy an evening of being together.
Aim The aim is to empower and encourage the clients of the café (mental health clients, neighbourhood inhabitants) to engage themselves as volunteers in the running and management of this meeting place as a place for active encounters for all participants.
Narratives (mark) I felt that there was something missing. A place where (ex)patients could meet and greet each other in a more informal setting …. For a long time we talked about the possibilities of creating this environment but there wasnt much goodwill from staff personal… Bonus points are really : there is always a familiar face around, it is a safe and humble place to be at with people who are truly concerned about you (Pol), its a mix of (ex)patients, locals, students and even staff members and services are at a reasonable price
Narratives (yves) I am an ex patient from antwerp and I live in leuven for about eight years. When I heared about pol parol,the café and meeting point in the neighbourhood,I was immediatelly interested. As a chef, I love the horeca bussiness,but after a few years of being in a mental health hospital, I also longued for keeping in touch with other patients, ex-patients and employees. I loved the concept and I was also rapidly motivated to do a personal add. So,after a few weeks I talked to Pol (whom I knew from before) and I started making snacks once a month. It was a succes from the beginning and I am still doing my share, along with a few other projects (bbq,christmascards,…) it was all a very pleasant experience and it still is.
Interview: Lieve: Good evening, Im Lieve and I visit Polparol now and than Toni:Hello, Im Toni and I go to Polparol every week on Thursday evening after doing some sports Lieve:Toni, what do you like the most from Polparols bar? Toni:The best part of it is that I can see my old buddies that I know from twenty years ago. Sometimes I see young and new people and I like to talk to them. When I meet new people I conversate with them and try to make new friends. That is a good exercise for inclusion. I also like to have a cool-down after doing some sports.
Lieve:I like the atmosphere of equality at Polparol. What do you think about that? Toni:The atmosphere is very important. I Like that you can conversate on the same level with all the costumers, and the therapists and everyone who is there. So you get to know people in a more free basis. Young and old pull on the same string and have a good time. Lieve:And Pol himself is an exellent bartender, dont you think so? Toni:Yes, I like Pol very much. Hes a little older and trough his work as a therapist he knows a lot about the pain of the hart and the body. Hes like a second dad. Its nice, he knows you by name and hes a good bartender and also a good listening ear, just like a second father. Thanks to Pol, we all feel very much at ease.
Lieve:So, Polparol is an example of a good practice. I heard the Greek people intend to do a similar thing. Is there any advice you can give to them, as a costumer? Toni:At Polparols place, there are also some volunteers working to keep the bar running. Its nice to see them grow in the project, and they are very precious. But its important to, to think about the location and the prices. It must be in a central place, that one can easily reach by bus or metro. And the prices must be very economic. Polparol is a place where you can learn about inclusion. You can exercise when youre there in a nice, informal way. Im glad Polparol exists! Lieve:Thank you Toni
More narratives (Luc) For me the start of Polparol was an opportunity to involve my students of OT in it. So they could learn something about the new tendency in OT service: empowering people to take their lives in their own hands in order to include as much as possible in there own environment, neighborhood, despite their possible limitations. It was also a chance for me to meet the (ex)clients of the mental health clinic where I work as an OT, and that in a totally different environment. Since the start of Polparols café I learned a lot about their lifes and the real difficulties and barriers they have to tackle to include as a full member of the community. I feel that, by running this café together with all stakeholders of this project, I am still growing not only as a professional but also as a person.
Narratives (students OT) For us Polparole is more than a place where we have the chance to meet with mental health (ex)clients. Its a realistic, learning environment where we try to empower people to take initiatives, form ideas about there personal and common interests. We try our very best, not to only guide the participants in the activities but also attempt to make contact with them in a casual way. Polparol is a cool place to be at besides that : Polparol is a cool place to be at
Events Opening ceremony ( Pol Parol 2009) BBQ every year Guided tours in the city Monthly cookout Birthday partys Game nights Sports activities (soccer) Singing together on special occasions quiz ……
The café. Meeting eachother. Voluntary engagement
Big BBQ august 2009: Action !
Partners in Polparol De Hulster vzw : initiative for sheltered housing Dhr. P.Mentens Dhr Pol Depreitere Wijkbureau Mannenstraat : Neighborhood work City of Leuven Dhr Jan Mellebeek HUB-EHSAL Brussel Education of Occupational therapists Dhr. Luc Vercruysse
Toast for the start of this new initiative: The coordination group. Pol :The proud father of the project
Who are the learners : (diverse levels) HUB-EHSAL students in Occupational Therapy learn how they can motivate and empower the other stakeholders to take initiative, to learn the skills necessary to run that kind of meeting places. This method of empowering should be one of their competences in their future professional life. Mental Health clients learn the necessary skills to run a meeting place as that café. These skills and competences can be useful later when they try to find (again) a job in the regular or voluntary labour market. Neighborhood inhabitants (including immigrants) learn how they can live together in an active engagement with mental health clients.
Methods: The café is opened every Thursday evening from 18u.00 to Activities are offered from time to time. Clients and all other stakeholders are free to join these groups. The activities are a joint action between all the regular visitors of the café. (students,mental health clients, neighbourhood inhabitants) Mobility to similar good practices (grundtvig- partners) Dissemination of the outcomes via website, presentations at congresses and seminars, publications (local-international )
Future projects We go on with this weekly encounter in Polparol, and try to take new initiatives in running the café, organising new activities and events. We look out to learn new skills in that.