Parcel deliverers must start to signal loneliness: ‘They encounter all kinds of things’


PostNL deliverers encounter all kinds of things in their work, including loneliness. In Hillegersberg-Schiebroek, in the north of Rotterdam, a trial is starting to detect loneliness among the elderly.

“A delivery person often delivered medical packages to a woman,” says Merel Koppen of PostNL. “The woman once asked him to put the parcel in her closet and there he found another twenty-two boxes. The delivery was the only contact she had. Quite distressing.”

Mail deliverers are, according to Koppen, the person for this task. “As PostNL, we are at the heart of society. Delivery people call at one in three doors and come across all kinds of things.”


This woman is by no means the only lonely elder the delivery drivers encounter. Drivers who bring aids and medicines are more likely to return with stories like this, says Koppen.

According to Koppen, three to four reports of loneliness from Rotterdam arrive at special hotlines every day. Until recently it was not possible to do anything. “The delivery people also have to continue, they cannot solve that.”

That is why the trial with welfare organization DOCK, in collaboration with the municipality of Rotterdam. “The deliverers can report such a situation and the organization will deal with it within 48 hours. Then they come to the door and see if that person is doing well.”


But what if people don’t think they are lonely and aren’t waiting for such a visit? “According to DOCK, no one is against attention. But 30 percent of people ask where the ‘How are you’ question going today. Most people are happy that someone is coming to see it. But it is and will remain a pilot and we will investigate whether this is something that works. “

The trial, which started on Tuesday with fifteen parcel deliverers, will run until the end of the year. “Then we will see how it went and whether this is the way to contribute to the approach against loneliness.”

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