The National Holiday is an opportunity for the King to highlight remarkable people and/or causes that are close to his heart. This year, the end of homelessness and the team at the non-profit organisation Street Nurses are being honoured through the ennoblement of Emilie Meessen - the association's co-founder and delegated administrator.
As in the past for other women active in the social sector, and more specifically in the field of homelessness, she will personally receive the title of Baroness.
Emilie explains: "This is a royal recognition of our work and that of an entire sector that is doing its best despite the difficult conditions in the face of the extent of the problem. "Together, let's put an end to homelessness! That's it the King is in the loop and shares this vision with us 😁!"
Émilie was a young nurse when she realised that, despite the large number of support structures available in Brussels, many long-term homeless people were still living on the streets. She rejected this fatality and decided, with her friend Sara Janssens, to found the non-profit organisation Street Nurses in 2005. Over the years, the association has developed a methodology based on hygiene, health and self-esteem, with the aim of creating a link with the most vulnerable homeless people, helping them to get off the streets for good and supporting them towards stable and sustainable housing. The realisation that an end to homelessness is possible, was born.
Street Nurses currently has over fifty employees in Brussels and ten in Liège, a multidisciplinary team of nurses, social workers and assistants, educators, psychologists, a doctor, three dogs and a management team.
The association is active with street teams, housing teams for rehoused people and a housing search and creation team. It is also developing awareness-raising and advocacy activities to convince the political authorities to find structural solutions that will put an end to homelessness in Brussels, Liège and elsewhere.
Since 2011, the organisation has rehoused over 200 of the most vulnerable homeless people. "200 people who, in their own way, encourage those who are still on the streets to believe in them, to hold on until a solution is found for everyone", as Emilie points out.
"I feel very honoured to have received the title of Baroness, and I interpret it as a way of encouraging us to continue in this direction," says Emilie. "And if Street Nurses is what it is today, it is above all thanks to the tremendous commitment of every member of the team since its creation. I sincerely thank the Royal Family for understanding and supporting our project. I hope that this support will enable some people to take the plunge and become (more) involved alongside us."
Every day, our more than sixty colleagues commit to ending homelessness. Find out how they do it here via a short interview with Emilie Meessen (watch the video at the bottom of the page).interview Emilie