Inspiring people from Twente Puck and Job ensure the voices of young people are heard in the municipality of Enschede and Twente Board

She is a student official in Enschede, and he is the chairman of Young Twente Board. Puck Kemper (25) and Job Bijvank (30) represent the voices of young people. This is how they influence policy in the city and region.

What does your job entail?

Puck: “As a student official, I form a bridge between the municipality and the students. I represent university students and have two colleagues representing MBO and HBO students. Together, we make sure that students are heard. If the municipality wants to know the students’ wishes regarding housing, culture, nightlife or safety on the streets, for example, they come to us. But we also set up our own initiatives and manage the subsidies for student initiatives.”

Job: “I am the chairman of Young Twente Board. I still have to find out what that entails exactly; I have only held this position since July. I was already part of Young Twente Board before that, though. We are the youth sounding board for Twente Board. We tell them what is happening among young people so that Twente Board can consider this in their decisions.”

Why did you choose this?

Job: “I lived in Amsterdam for a while but returned to Twente; I wanted to get to know the region again. That’s when I came across Young Twente Board. Together with other young people from Twente, we deal with complex issues. I enjoy it immensely but realise I am in a luxury position; I have a nice job and am well off. I wish that were true for more people in the region. I try to contribute to that as a member of Young Twente Board.”

Puck: “I saw a vacancy for the position of student official and applied. I had been on the UT’s University and Faculty Council before, and the municipality is a nice next step. You don’t just become a student official overnight, though. They check whether you have a network within your educational institution so that you can be a good representative of the students. I think this is an amazing job, and I feel like I make an important contribution to student life in Enschede. That is also my goal. When I graduate, I will have had seven beautiful years here. I want to make the city even more amazing for the students who come after me.”

To what extent do you influence policy?

Puck: “We are often asked for feedback. The other day, for example, about a piece on equality. We are asked what we think from the students’ point of view; what we think of the content of the piece, but also what is missing. Students look at policy from a different perspective than an official. I also feel that the feedback we give is listened to.”

Job: “As Young Twente Board, we introduced the Gross Twente Happiness. This consists of eleven dimensions. We look at what is happening within those dimensions and where the problems are. We then talk to other youths from the region about how we can tackle this. We then write a vision statement for Twente Board based on this. We are also in regular contact with educational institutions, for example, about social involvement among young people. We see different groups increasingly living in their own bubble due to political and technological changes; young people are becoming further removed from each other. Education can play a big role in counteracting this. We called on the directors of Saxion, ROC van Twente, and the University of Twente to join forces and set up a project. They immediately agreed.”

How do you see the future for young people in the region?

Job: “Positive. There are many opportunities for young people in Twente. We have good educational institutions, and they get the opportunity to develop themselves through various projects. I am happy about that, but I have some concerns at the same time. About polarisation among young people and the housing shortage, for example. Young people sometimes have to take a step back in adulthood because they cannot find a suitable place to live. That worries me.”

Puck: “Enschede is actively working on the housing issue, but also on safety. That contributes to making Enschede an increasingly amazing city. It remains to be seen what the future holds; Enschede has an issue with talent retention. I do see that the municipality is doing what they can. They are working hard to make Enschede a beautiful, green city where you can build a community during and after your student days.”

What needs to happen to make Twente the perfect region for young people?

Job: “The preconditions have to be right. In terms of living and culture, but also in terms of connections in Twente. We need to ensure that these improve so that you can get from place to place faster. We also need to radiate that Twente is a nice home for young people. You can become who you want to be here. Whether you want to become a carpenter, a lawyer or an entrepreneur, Twente has the tools to make your dreams come true. It’s best to shout that from the rooftops.”

Puck: “We have a lot to gain when it comes to culture. Enschede has many festivals, but most are focused on pop culture. It could be a lot more diverse. Enschede should be a place to visit for all the cool things you want to see. Steps should also be taken in other areas; you often hear that Enschede is far away from everything. We need to work on better connections. And as I said before, the municipality is already investing in housing for starters. This is important because young people will stick around when there is more space to live. That, in turn, will create a vibrant cultural sector. Everything works together, ultimately. All these steps are important to make Enschede a vibrant city for young people.”

Date: 21 August 2023 |

Source of tekst: Puck Kemper, Job Bijvank |

Author: Willem Korenromp

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