A relapse is always possible. To avoid this with our rehoused patients, we transform our post-follow-up into a full-fledged prevention project under the name "My Way", in order to firmly anchor people in their new home.
Housing is an essential condition for helping homeless people to rebuild their lives. Most of them lived many years on the street, sometimes 8, 15, 20 years or even longer. That leaves huge scars, both physically and mentally. And even with a roof over their heads, they still have a long way to go to restore their health and morale. Therefore, we will continue to work intensively with them for quite some time.
Join our crowdfunding and help us raise 15,000 euros! With this, we will invest in the prevention of relapse among our rehoused patients. We do this through our project "My Way". It encourages them to find pleasure in life again and to rediscover its little pleasures.
Join us in this adventure !
Over the past 15 years, Street Nurses has been able to help some 160 homeless people in Brussels and Liège access sustainable housing by providing intensive accompaniment.
Even when our patients have found stable housing and a solid supporting network, we don’t abandon them. Rather, they enter into the last stage of their journey of reintegration, which we call from now on “My Way”.
This project aims at improving these peoples’ quality of life and their human fulfillment. It was launched on 1 January 2021 with a team consisting of a nurse and three social workers.
“My Way” allows these people to develop life projects in their own way in order to improve their well-being and attachment to their home and so to avoid a possible relapse into street life.
In other words, we would like to trigger in these women and men who have been living for such a long time in the streets, some sparks that will rekindle their flame of life, making them want to get up in the morning, to indulge in some small pleasures and simply to feel well in their skin.
Once we jointly assess that they have found their place in society again, they are ready to leave "My Way". By mutual agreement we stop the further follow-up.
Their past on the street remains only a distant memory and the risk of relapse is strongly reduced.
Moreover, this is an important step towards the elimination of homelessness.
How does “My Way” work?
Our workers start cooperating with the people, not calling them “patients” anymore, but “project partners”. Everybody contributes according his/her own means.
Together, anything can be discussed. It’s important to mobilize all their capacities, both internal and external, so as to make them aware that they hold all the keys to solve their problems and to avoid relapsing into street life - and that one day they will no longer need Street nurses.
Practically, we invite them for an informal moment when we inform them of their transfer to “My Way” - just to earmark the moment as something festive. It is, after all, an important stage in their journey.
Afterwards, our workers and volunteers visit each person at their home to see what’s needed.
“My Way” takes all the time to discuss any wishes and projects that could be set up, and then works out action plans.
The wishes are often simple and varied. Mr. J. wants to join a fitness center, Ms. V. would like to join a discussion group to talk about her handicap, Mr. Y. dreams of finding a job, Ms. T. wants to start a small vegetable garden, etc.
We believe that by taking enough time to examine these people's wishes, “My Way” helps to find something meaningful for each of them, and which will give them solid support to fall back on, if needed.
Is not that the goal of life for all of us? To find something that inspires us, gives sense to our daily lives, be surrounded by people we can trust - and so lead a balanced life?
What difference will "My Way" make?
At the moment, “My Way” follows 52 people.
We do everything we can to make them feel really at home in their homes, willing to stay there forever. Because prevention through housing is an important part of the solution to ban homelessness. That is borne out by the fact that 90% of the people we accompany stay in their homes.
Obviously, we must still overcome a lot of obstacles and everything is not rosy.
In an individualistic society that puts us all in ever smaller boxes, it remains difficult to gain access to certain structures if you fall outside the usual frame.
The people we follow never really fitted into these boxes. They suffer from physical and/or mental health problems, they are sometimes addicted and show behavioral problems.
"My Way” also aims to accompany existing structures and society as a whole to raise their awareness that we must learn again to care about the plight of this particular group of people that has been ignored for so long.
We keep knocking on doors, explain the project, supply help where needed, try again when something did not immediately work out - and persist till it does.
We, Street Nurses, are aware that the people we accompany are complex. But we also know their value. Because these people give the world a message that underlies the entire action of Street Nurses: we want a more open and just society, for all.
(Find below a story about "My Way" ...)
© images: Infirmiers de rue & Peter Zangl