Amsterdam, 1 April 2020
Dear Colleagues and Friends of all Clubhouses in Europe,
It’s only a few months ago that the Board of Clubhouse Europe -filled with enthusiasm- wished you all the best for the first year of the new decade. We announced that we would go full speed ahead with our crusade to make Clubhouses visible in Europe.
At the time we did not have the faintest idea that a few weeks later Europe would be overwhelmed by an unexpected enemy: the Corona virus, Covid 19.
At the moment Europe is even the epicenter of what became a pandemic, a globally spread epidemic. So far Italy and Spain have been the worst hit with thousands of casualties. The other European countries are also concerned about their near future.
There are signs that the USA could become the new epicenter with even more devastating results that have no comparison to the rest of the world thus far.
The pandemic is forcing Clubhouses to go back to the core of their existence: being real communities for their members. Communities with a much bigger impact than with just the Clubhouse buildings which in the end only facilitate the existence of a community.
Now we have the opportunity to show the world that the Clubhouse is much more than just a social program for people suffering from mental illness. Most programs do not exist after the doors have been closed.
By doing this we bring together all the local clubhouse communities to one big global clubhouse community. It’s really moving to see how inventive clubhouses are in supporting and comforting the members who need it.
At the moment Clubhouse International (https://clubhouse-intl.org/ ) is doing a really great job. In a short time they succeeded in bringing together the best practices of Clubhouses from all over the world in how they are dealing with the Corona virus consequences. For example there are very useful tips from our colleagues in Korea and China who had the dubious honor to be the first to have to deal with the virus. Fountain House New York (https://www.fountainhouse.org/welcome-virtual-clubhouse-beta) is working hard to create a virtual clubhouse members can lean on now their physical clubhouse is closed.
Bringing all these experiences together can bring us at least something positive after this dark period: the evidence of how vital our model is, also in times of crisis.
Therefore it is very important to record all your actions (failures and successes), experiences, ideas and plans. We are working on a way to bring all this material together, so we can uses it as a tool to organize more and more support for our model. Even now we can work on our future!
We want to convey our respects to all those who work so hard for their communities both within the Clubhouse movement and throughout the world. Especially those working in all the essential services in order to beat this monster called Corona virus, Covid 19. Undoubtedly together we will.
Wander Reitsma, Chair