Mrs J., we met 11 years ago. After three years in the street being followed up by Street Nurses, you were one of the first people to join the Housing First programme.
We can say that we know each other well and that you know Street Nurses almost by heart. Every time we meet you or call you, you make sure to check up on the team, say hello to everyone and thank us from the bottom of your heart. Often the calls end with "Goodbye, darling", leaving us with a smile on our face after hanging up.
You found refuge on the street to escape a violent man. Surrounded by your friends, you tried to find a solution each night to sleep in a dry place, discreet and safe. You often tell us your story like a great intense adventure full of twists and turns, friendships, without forgetting the extreme harshness of the situations you endured.
Sometimes your heart fills with sorrow and sadness when you talk about these memories and the many mournings you are going through. Sometimes the waves were so big that you did not open the door for weeks, you did not have the energy to take care of your home or yourself. This led to several movings.
The waves are still there, of course, and they continue to flow through you. But in the last few months you have learned to recognise them, to tame them, to tell us when it is best to meet you.
You have a little cat that you look after with great care. You clean your home regularly. You have started to cook again. You regularly go for a walk in the parks of Brussels. You have reconnected with your family, and you have even learned that you have recently become a grandmother again!
You seem to be having a happy and peaceful time, and you are carrying out your life plans as you see fit...
And that, Mrs J., you know how it fills our hearts!
- Sarah, nurse in the Housing department.
(*) We make every effort to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. Nevertheless, we want to bear witness to how they have to survive and how we work together to reintegrate them. Therefore, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in another context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.