Community-based social inclusion of citizens with mental disability and citizens with psychiatric problems; a case study at three different districts in Nijmegen

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Brummel A.
Belonging: Strenghts & Barriers I

1 Tandem Welzijn, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

2 Public Administration, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

All authors:

Annica Brummel1,2

Social Inclusion & Representation
Identity (as a citizen), friendship (social networks), ableism (in regular facilities in districts and between neighbors) transition (possibilities in Wmo)


Since 2007 a new law has been introduced in the Netherlands: the Wet Maatschappelijke ondersteuning (Wmo), which states that everyone should be able to participate in society. This law, also affects disabled people in the domains of living and wellbeing. Several studies focused on social inclusion in the neighbourhood, but a perspective from the discipline of care is dominant in these studies. In order to get a better view on community-based social inclusion, a focus is needed of the variety and diversity of the community, especially informal networks and small groups.


In a case study, three most different districts of the city Nijmegen will be compared. The first case study (district Nije Veld) is completed. In-depth interviews were conducted with five respondents with mental disability and six respondents with psychiatric problems. We mapped their social network.

In addition, we assessed opportunities for community based activities and regular facilities (about 170 activities in district Nije Veld). Next, five informal networks and small groups were selected for further in-depth interviews. Finally, participatory observations were made. The analysis of this data provides citizens and social workers with insight into the opportunities for community based social inclusion.


  • Most respondents visit facilities in the neighbourhood as a visitor, only two have a role as volunteer.
  • Most respondents want to increase their participation in the neighbourhood
  • Most of the informal networks and small groups are open for participation of disabled people, only one small group did not see any role in inclusion.


In general the respondents felt at home in the district. They do not experience a lot of stigma. The informal characteristics of the informal networks and small groups contributed to social inclusion, as well as the moral values of the district. Barriers in community-based social inclusion were not related to characteristics in the neighbourhood, but were mostly personal related.

Social inclusion is stimulated by inducing some social roles, like being a volunteer or a neighbour. There are some barriers regarding informal networks and small groups. They are not familiar with disabilities and participation at all levels is not always likely.

Care professionals and community professionals and the people and facilities they support are separated. There is a lot of activity in the neighbourhood, although this is invisible. Informal characteristics can contribute to social inclusion, however the same characteristics make these activities and networks invisible. Some of the respondents stated that the staff could help them participate in the neighbourhood. Some of the informal networks and small groups stated that professionals, should not interfere in the informal structure of the neighbourhood, although it is necessary to improve cooperation.