On a recent visit to the metro, I was horrified to observe the outcasts of the current lockdown. Of course, there is nothing comfortable about the restrictions we are experiencing.
Nevertheless, whilst we temporarily trade-in our freedom in the name of personal and public safety, others are still experiencing, the tragedy of life on the pavements. These people who, until recently, had melted into the mass and busy-ness of Brussels, now find themselves exposed, alone or in small groups. It seems that the invisible enemy has rendered visible all these people who had been erased from our consciousness. These days, I find even more noticeable the grey faces and ragged clothing of the homeless people alongside whom Street nurses works.
As someone who works to help them into housing, this period has given further significance to the work I do. It saddens me that it has taken the arrival of a killer virus for more urgency to be placed on access to housing. My modest experience with Street nurses should already have taught me about the poor life expectancy of the homeless.
Beyond the abstract numbers, working in the field I have come to realise just how much life on the streets destroys the physical and mental health of these people, whose names I now know. Today, I write from behind safe walls, which protect me from many threats to my welfare, but my mind travels back to those grey faces and ragged clothes, which hide individuals who do indeed have a name. What more must we do in order for access to housing to be considered a fundamental right?"
- Fiona, working to find housing