When we join her today, Mrs. A hides her face in her hands. She groans, she weeps. An icy wind hits the courtyard where we’re sitting and makes the atmosphere even more desolate. Nobody can escape suffering. I know. As a social assistant, as someone who wants to relieve misery in all its forms. I empathise with her suffering, each time she looks at me with swollen eyes.

Confronting very painful situations, we improvise. How? I don’t know. Sometimes I cannot answer my own questions.

In that respect, Mrs. A is probably stronger than me. She reacts with “what are you afraid of?”, or “what is it you want in life?”

Then comes the moment when, bashfully, she talks about her most intimate dream. “I know it’s crazy”, she says, blushing, “but I’d like to own a home again”.

I know that a project for the purchase of social homes is in the making. Mrs. A’s dream therefore looks to me achievable in the medium term. The more so as she makes ever more efforts in that direction. We register for an information meeting about the project. Mrs. A’s face is beaming.

For me, this meeting is the most remarkable in my work. When I met her earlier during an inspection round at a Samusocial establishment, she had already formulated the project of becoming the owner of her home. Not exactly a project that seems compatible with the situation of a homeless person.

This association gives me the space and time necessary to achieve this aim. After all, it’s with this view that we created the My Way section. The aim is to go the extra mile, to break out of the logic of “daily survival” and support “life projects” in which our housed patients can find prosperity and a sense in life.

Isn’t that also the role of the so-called “support teams”?

Fiona, responsible for housing in the My Way section


*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.

Picture © Emilie Marchandise