It’s a dreary day. I try to avoid big raindrops by half-skipping down the street and soon arrive at the office of Straatverplegers. This year AB is supporting the non-profit for a second time and I was invited out into the field to experience their work firsthand with David and Iannis.
After a quick round of introductions with a number of colleagues, we jump on a tram heading to Vorst. That’s where Pierre and Marie live. They were housed by Straatverplegers a number of years ago, but later had to move from their residence in Molenbeek to this new apartment in Vorst. Marie is seated, cutting out vouchers from advertising mail, and Pierre shows me around. “It’s a lovely apartment with lots of light. It’s good. But we’re still getting used to the neighbourhood, back in Molenbeek I really knew everyone.” Marie nods in agreement. A few photos of Johnny Hallyday and Elvis hang on the wall. Pierre is a big fan, Marie is not fussed.
Iannis and David chat with them and ask if everything is going ok. “It is important to keep supporting people. It varies, how often we visit our people. More or less frequently, depending on the phase in their accommodation.” Their empathy and enthusiasm are catchy. This job is not for everyone, there are no results without patience and understanding. I very quickly come to realise that today. And also that it’s not self-evident for everyone to have a roof over their head.
This afternoon there is an appointment with the OCMW in Vorst. Pierre follows close behind us with his walking stick. Iannis and David will support Pierre during this meeting.
We arrive. There are 30 people waiting before us. That too is a part and parcel of the process: waiting, discussing, explaining the situation, and waiting again. An hour and a half later, it turns out that the social assistant for our appointment is not there. Pierre looks disappointed and David and Iannis try to arrange a new appointment. Unfortunately, it will be for next week. Nothing more is possible today.
Iannis and David accompany Pierre back to his apartment and I head back to AB. At the South station, I pass by a number of homeless people. This was Pierre and Marie’s life a few years ago. Fortunately, they received the right sort of support and they can now live their later years with dignity. You can easily help too!
- You can contribute an amount of your choosing when purchasing tickets online, this chosen amount goes entirely to Straatverplegers vzw.
- During concerts you can deposit notes and coins in the collection boxes to be found on the bars in AB Café/Resto and in AB itself.
- Donate your cup deposit! Per cup that is donated during the concerts, ten cents is donated to the charity.
- Make a donation on their website.
Together we will end homelessness. Together with can work on #ABetterworld.
About last year;