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The welfare state is evolving into a society within which its citizens are expected to participate with increasing degrees of initiative and self-efficacy. This requires the creation of a linkage between care and welfare supply at regional and district levels. The Municipality of Gouda aims to create an effective connection between the supply of care and welfare and the participation of citizens and voluntary local initiatives. It does this by equipping three district-based Social Teams with a Social Connector. This strategy Social Connector was launched a year ago and is already showing promise in terms of health and citizen participation. However, such knowledge as we have acquired concerning the added value that this actually brings for the citizen, care work, and the community in a mid-sized city such as Gouda is still in its infancy. Therefore, through this project we promote the transparency and optimization of the ‘Social Connector’ strategy of the Municipality of Gouda, and ensure the broad dissemination of this knowledge to other municipalities. The goals of the project are:

1) Knowledge development:

1a) To identify the current activities and strategy of the Social Connector. How do these contribute to the goals for the Social Connector set by the Municipality of Gouda?

1b) To work with the Social Connectors and relevant stakeholders to optimize this strategy through learning-development focused on the goals of the Social Connector. This involves both the implementation of the strategy in practice and the prerequisites for reinforcing it.

2) Knowledge dissemination:

The knowledge gained with regard to the Social Connector strategy as developed in Gouda will be shared with other mid-sized municipalities, including in the form of a guide.


The project will be undertaken by the Academische Werkplaats Publieke Gezondheid NZH (joint academic centre for public health – ‘AWPG NZH’ in collaboration with the Coöperatie Voortouw in Gouda and the Municipality of Gouda. GGD Hollands-Midden (municipal healthcare service) will act as project leader and secretary on behalf of the AWPG NZH, whilst TNO will conduct the appropriate action research on behalf of AWPG NZH. Alongside the project group within which citizens also participate, we will also make use of a local advisory group made up of all significant stakeholders involved with the Social Connector on a day-to-day basis and an inter-municipal sounding board as sparring partner for the development of the Social Connector strategy within an integrated and inclusive healthcare policy in other municipalities.


The total duration of the project is 18 months – from October 2016 to March 2018 – and is divided into three work packages.

The aim of the first work package (WP1, Oct-Dec 2016) is to design the project and achieve goal 1a. The result of WP1 is the signing of a pledge within the Alles is Gezondheid national programme, a PowerPoint presentation of the current strategy of Social Connectors, and the formulation of steps to be taken to further optimize the strategy as from the start of the local testing ground Gouda, work package 2.

The aim of work package 2 (WP2, Jan-Dec 2017) is to achieve goal 1b, the optimization of the Social Connector strategy. This begins with the steps as formulated in WP1. Through testing, observation, reflection, and adjustment, the strategy undergoes a series of increasing optimizations. The WP2 results in a description of the determining elements and prerequisites for guaranteeing the Social Connector strategy at management, operational, and citizen level, in which citizen participation plays a role.

The aim of work package 3 (WP3, Jan-Mar 2018) is knowledge dissemination. The result is an article accessible to professionals concerning the Social Connector strategy, a meeting with citizens, a guide to other municipalities with regard to the Social Connector strategy, and a concluding meeting.


Dutch summary:

Vanuit de drie sociale teams in Gouda werken drie Sociaal Makelaars aan het verbinden van vraag en aanbod in de wijk. Het gaat om het versterken van burgerinitiatieven en het op elkaar afstemmen van behoeften van kwetsbare burgers en het aanbod van zorg en welzijn in de wijk. Versterken van de eigen kracht van kwetsbare burgers staat centraal. De sociaal makelaars hebben het afgelopen jaar al een belangrijke positie gekregen in de wijk, hun manier van werken is veelbelovend.

Dit onderzoek brengt in kaart wat de werkwijze van sociaal makelaar tot een succes maakt, hoe het (nog) beter kan en welke randvoorwaarden hiervoor nodig zijn. De mening van kwetsbare burgers speelt in het onderzoek een belangrijke rol. Resultaten zullen toegankelijk worden gemaakt voor andere gemeenten in de vorm van een handreiking.

Gemeente Gouda, TNO, GGD Hollands Midden en Coöperatie Voortouw (de uitvoeringsorganisatie in het sociale domein) werken in dit onderzoek samen.


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