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Street Nurses launch winter campaign to highlight plight of homeless
As night temperatures plummet, homelessness organisation Street Nurses (Infirmiers de rue/Straatverpleegers) called for permanent safe shelter for rough sleepers in a renewed campaign launched on Monday.
Under the image of a torn piece of cardboard (pictured below), Campaign Bädluk pledged its support for long-term solutions to the problem of homelessness. It revealed that 5,300 people were homeless in Brussels with more than 700 sleeping outside, while the city of Liège counted over 500 people sleeping on its streets. “We cannot simply say they have had 'bad luck'. Together, we can put an end to homelessness!” it said.
The nonprofit also launched Brussels Sleep Out (main image), a new initiative that challenges people to sleep outside ‘at home’ for a night on 17 December. It aims to raise awareness of the plight of people sleeping rough and collect money for the cause.
The Brussels and Liège-based team of nurses and social workers focuses on building relationships with the long-term homeless, reconnecting them with society and finding them permanent housing. Once they’re in a more stable situation, Street Nurses matches them with volunteer buddies to help prevent relapses.
An ongoing priority is campaigning to make housing more affordable for the vulnerable. "The question is not whether we have enough shelter to offer all homeless people temporary shelter from the winter cold, but whether we can ensure that these people find stable housing as quickly as possible so that they are no longer dependent on emergency aid,” said Street Nurses.
It called for loopholes in the social safety net to be closed, more social housing to be created and continued investment in guiding homeless people to structural solutions. "Prevention, affordable housing, quality counselling and hospitality are the key words for us to work out a global plan to end homelessness," it added.