Getting homeless people off the street and housing them permanently requires persistence and perseverance. In that process, relaxed and comfortable moments are just as important as medical-social counseling. They allow us, with our patients, to identify and use their own skills for their sustainable reintegration.

First of all: create a bond

Regardless of weather conditions, the Street Nurses teams sometimes travel up to 10 km to track down our homeless patients. Then it comes down to making contact and creating a bond.

"Despite the opportunities we offer, we have to overcome all kinds of obstacles such as mistrust, rejection and denial. It can take a whole year for someone to be willing to even take a shower!", according to Pierre Ryckmans, medical coordinator of Street Nurses.

Skills: a key element in our daily work

In addition to our medical-social work, we spend a lot of energy to identify and mobilize the individual skills of each person.

Pierre:  "We try to understand what our patients like to eat, what they like to listen to and watch, and what they did before they hit the street. We wonder what their professional experiences are and explore their family network. We consider everything we discover in this way as an invaluable source from which we can draw to make people complete human beings again. It also shows that they are much more than the sum of their problems".

The teams also use that information to build a positive relationship with our patients. "By focusing on their preferences, we can provide them with pleasant moments, such as a nice meal or a visit to a place to which they are attached. That can stimulate their motivation and at the same time strengthen the bond."

It works - with patience and persistence

Fortunately, as time passes, progress can be made, and situations get unblocked "People are beginning to trust us, open up, control their emotions, become active and reconnect with aspects of their lives that seemed lost", said Pierre

No sustainable reintegration without a home

Nothing works better than a home of their own to help patients mobilize their skills and reintegrate into society. The house then becomes a self-contained resource.

Pierre: "When you live on the street, the perspective of getting a home is an invaluable source of motivation, even if it doesn’t always come without stress. Simply moving in can change someone, for example by deciding to stop alcohol and drugs."

Thanks to you we do this work