From the very start of the corona crisis, the needs of homeless people have increased considerably.
They are an extremely vulnerable group, because of their living circumstances and their physical and psychological state, which is often already particularly fragile.
Our street work was therefore immediately intensified in Brussels and Liège. At present, the number of rounds in the streets carried out each week has tripled! In fact, we are now at about fifteen weekly rounds in order to meet as many people as possible.
The priority is to make sure that everyone has enough water and food, to give prevention advice, but above all to check that no one is showing symptoms of Covid-19. If this is the case, we provide an accompaniment to the hospital for treatment if necessary.
This situation presents us with important challenges: increasing our staff capacity to be present on the street, having the necessary equipment to protect our nurses and social workers, as well as our patients and all the people we go to.
At the moment, we estimate that the impact of the crisis on our budget would be at least 20,000 additional euros, which we cannot afford alone.
The objective of this campaign is to raise the necessary sum to be able to finance 100 additional marauds in order to meet and help as many people as possible in Brussels and Liège. Make a donation now and show that we are working together to create a society that takes everyone into account.
Our multidisciplinary teams (nurses, social workers, educators, etc.) go directly into contact with the most vulnerable people by meeting them in their living environment, i.e. the street. The objective is to ensure a global medical and social follow-up of the person with the aim of enabling him/her to find housing. They provide intensive and long-term support.
In spite of the particular situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this global work continues, but even more intensive. Indeed, since 18 March - the beginning of the crisis - our teams in Brussels and Liège have
This project helps to ensure that homeless people who were already particularly vulnerable before the outbreak of the health crisis, and now all the more so, have as much chance as possible of getting through the crisis without becoming infected; or if they do become infected, they can still rely on the necessary care.
Now that the emergency services and medical centres are less accessible, medical follow-up on the streets is even more important than before. The importance of our efforts is to prevent the virus from finding its way into the homeless population. After all, this is an extremely vulnerable group, which is often already highly susceptible to infection due to their living conditions and their physical condition.
A round takes half a day with 2 nurses and costs 150€, not counting the cost of care materials or food...
With a gift of
Émilie Meessen was a young nurse when she came to the following conclusion: despite the fact that there is a large number of medical-social organisations in Brussels, there are an enormous number of homeless people. She therefore decided, together with her friend Sara Janssens, to set up the non-profit association "Street Nurses" in 2005.
In 2010, Émilie was elected "Ashoka Fellow" because of her work and the impact she has with the team of street nurses. She is one of ten Belgians selected and recognized by Ashoka as the best social entrepreneurs in the world.
Today, the non-profit association Street Nurses employs 32 people in Brussels and 3 in Liège, a multidisciplinary team of nurses, social workers, educators, a doctor and supported by a number of administrative staff.
The association is active with street teams, home teams for people who have already been rehoused and a cell to find and/or create their own homes. The organisation also develops awareness-raising and advocacy activities in order to find structural solutions to end homelessness in Brussels, Liège, ... and elsewhere.
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With the context of the coronavirus, adaptation in the field is daily.
To be able to meet as many people as possible, we go to new areas to meet people we don't necessarily know and who sometimes have unexpected reactions. Our way of conveying the prevention message must be constantly renewed because people all have different ideas about the virus. Some think they are automatically protected because they have already experienced everything on the street, others are very well informed and ask us for protective equipment, and finally there are some who simply don't believe in it.
We often have to go back to work with these people from the beginning: introduce ourselves, gain their trust, create a bond, etc.
For us nurses, the context is exciting but also stressful. We don't know if we are carrying the asymptomatic virus, and despite all precautions, a simple careless mistake could infect a homeless person.
Finally, I feel good in the field, I want to continue because these people need us. And we realize all the more that having a home is very important.
Our street team - a great team that goes full steam ahead - today consists of fourteen people, nurses, social assistants and social workers. They always go out in duo.
Unfortunately not all of them are on the photo, but their names are Joséphine, Elisabeth, Sarah, Natalia, Mathilde, Cécile, Pierre, Margaux, Gaëlle, Agathe, Guillaume et Manon in Brussels and Fanny and Camille in Liège.