English Traduction - PatchWork 1
ItineRRances is an artistic project initiated by the non profit organisation “Bulle”, in partnership with several actors of the Brussels associative network.
Thanks to the involvement of eleven photographers and reporters, this collaborative exhibition offers a multiplicity of views on homelessness experienced on a daily basis. Shuffled between the various aid services and public administrations, people in precarious situations have no choice but to pace their weekly itinerary according to the schedules of the institutions they frequent.
Through four themes (hygiene & health, access to housing, violence & addictions and social & cultural), ItineRRances pays tribute to people who are wandering, here and elsewhere, and to all the actors on the ground.
This exhibition is intended to be nomadic, scattered around the capital, in order to occupy public space as much as possible.
Thanks to all the photographers; Andréas Athanassiadis, Emily Bendib, Anatole Damien, Florence Detienne, Julien Dewarichet, Yvan Fonsny, Vera Keraudren, Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing, Stéfanne Prijot, Chloé Thôme et Sarah Verlaine.
And our partners: Bouche à Oreille, Dune, Les 3 Pommiers, L’Ilot, RestoJet, Rolling Douche et Street&Read.
Anyone can end up on the street at some point. Financial difficulties, family and domestic violence, accessibility and availability of housing, relationship breakdowns and health problems are just some of the many reasons why people find themselves in a difficult situation. Homelessness is complex and not simply a lack of housing. We do not claim to have all the answers, but we hope to raise awareness and ask the right questions.
HYGIENE, AN ESSENTIAL NEED
Hygiene is linked to our body, to our intimacy, and therefore also to our identity. It is a basic need that also impacts on health, and to which every human being should have access, free of charge. This is an essential need, but one that is not easily accessible to the 5313 homeless or poorly housed people (living in unhealthy accommodation) counted in the capital (figure taken from the latest count on 9/11/2020, by Brusshelp in collaboration with the King Baudouin Foundation). The hygiene of the body is the first thing one offers to the people in front of one. If you don’t have a good self-image, what must the other person think of you? Because feeling good about your body is also a way of having a positive perception of yourself and thus feeling integrated in society.
HOUSING, A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
We all need a roof over our heads, a place to rest, to take care of ourselves, to feel safe, to feel at home. Housing is therefore a fundamental right. However, today in Belgium, thousands of people are sleeping on the streets. Thousands of people cannot afford to pay their rent. Thousands of people live in unhealthy housing, or housing that is too small, and thousands of others are afraid that they will not be able to find housing or re-housing in decent conditions. Finding sustainable housing is therefore often a long and arduous journey: there are too many conditions, too many steps. This is why solutions are emerging, such as the AIS (Agence Immobilière Sociale), or the Housing First method.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL INTERACTION
Social isolation often hits as hard as poverty. On the streets, the days are long and the nights far from restful. Feeling expected, listened to and considered is essential to keep your spirits up and to avoid sinking. Human contact is sometimes as invigorating as a meal or a warm night. So how do you keep yourself busy and organise your time when you are in a precarious situation? Facilitating access to culture, reading books, taking part in art workshops, and (re)constructing a clothing identity are all ways of (re)creating social links, keeping one’s mind occupied and, in this way, escaping a little.
VIOLENCE AND ADDICTION
The collective imagination often associates homelessness with street violence and addictions of all kinds. However, this is neither a general rule nor an inevitability! As in every social environment, these notions coexist. Many people in precarious situations have the will to get out of it. The important thing is to reduce the risks and to inform about good practices. Unfortunately, the frequent visits to the streets and precarious housing lead to stress, cold, addictions and violence, which damage the homeless. Their bodies bear the marks of this. To protect themselves, they hide in the crowd and become invisible.
“People think I’m careful but I don’t really care. I’ve had the same style since I was 15, I’m 61. I’m not going to change anytime soon. “
Michel is a regular user of the services of the non-profit organisation Bulle. Bulle collaborates with the Bouche à Oreille collective, which occasionally offers free cloakroom facilities to anyone in need.
Bouche à Oreille is a collective supported by the non-profit organization Fair.e. Born from the desire to transform unsold foodstuffs in order to propose other forms of redistribution, their objective is the implementation of local food solidarity networks. Currently, their main activity is the preparation of meals that are then distributed free of charge: among other things, they are present every Monday afternoon at the Bulle & Rolling Douche offices, place Flagey (Ixelles).
“I kept my things with me all the time. I didn’t give them to anyone. For no reason. There was nothing of value in it but useful stuff. Now I have constant back pain, I always feel like I have it on my back. Like a snail.”
Finding accommodation can be an obstacle course, between the lack of space coupled with a constant increase in demand, access criteria (limited to men or people with animals), delays, discrimination, lottery, lack of privacy, promiscuity, insecurity, etc., there are clearly difficulties, whether the accommodation is temporary or more durable in a reception centre or a landlord’s house for example. The impact of lack of accommodation is very wide ranging, from not being able to have basic needs in one place to having to reverse one’s days because of the risk of spending the night on the streets.
Yuri arrived in Brussels 10 years ago. As he says himself, everything goes very fast and without really understanding how it happens, he finds himself on the street. He returned three times during this period. One afternoon, he returns to the centre of Brussels and lets his mind bring his memories to life.
On the square in front of the Beguinage church, occupied by several hundred undocumented migrants, Pierre, himself homeless, welcomes an old man in his arms. The man can barely speak. He is cold. Pierre gives him his blanket. He can no longer stand upright and is sleepy. Pierre carries him, at arm’s length, to “his bench” which he gives up for the night.
Violence can take different forms, whether psychological or physical, the damage is often felt in the long term and is one of the factors that aggravate life on the street, sometimes leading to addiction. It is everywhere, whether during the day with the way people look at you, denial, or at night with security violence, whether you are homeless or badly housed, which according to the testimonies can happen in a centre, on the street, by other homeless people, by the police, by anyone anywhere in fact. Drinking at home with friends would be acceptable but when you don’t have a home how do you do it? Addictions and alcohol are sometimes the only refuges one can find to try to escape from one’s reality or to confront it…