By Jan Douwe Krist and Marcello Filibeck
13th of June, 2022 – With the Russian war in Ukraine, The Netherlands saw an increasing number of refugees. They need all sorts of support, including clothes. In Groningen, the clothing bank De Zeecontainer faces growing calls for help.
9to5 met with Natascha Snoek to talk about how she deals with this.
Natascha founded De Zeecontainer six years ago. “My son went to school, and I was looking for something to do. Because I had been a housewife for years.” She ended up at the food bank, where there was an old sea container. This is where Natascha started her clothing bank. De Zeecontainer (the sea container) got its name from there.
At the food bank, Natascha noticed that when people have to make a financial decision they often spend their money on food. This leaves little left for clothing and other goods. Natascha: “To me, clothing is the second highest priority, after food. I have had a mother on the phone late at night, whose son was totally beaten up, because he was wearing broken shoes.”
De Zeecontainer is volunteer-run, and sustains itself through a municipality subsidy and donations. These donations can be either money or clothes, and come from individuals as well as organisations and businesses.
“At the moment I am seeing that the new applications are rising in relation to the donations. But that is also because all of a sudden the Ukrainian families came in big numbers,” Natascha says. “It has happened that Ukrainian families, or Ukrainian ladies, came in wearing the clothing in which they fled.”
When we were filming in De Zeecontainer, we heard almost as much Ukrainian as Dutch. This is thanks to an Ukrainian volunteer that Natascha found. She preferred to stay anonymous and not appear in the video, but Natascha is very happy with her help.
“She herself is from the Ukraine, she speaks Ukrainian, she knows the feeling because she fled in the middle of the war. We cannot imagine what has happened there, but she can.”