English Traduction - Patchwork 4
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.
A. (opposite) is one of the beneficiaries of the ASBL Dune, a risk reduction counter. He is also one of the regulars at the ASBL’s ART workshop, which offers several other services.
An opportunity to discuss his work. Perhaps an exhibition?
O. is one of the beneficiaries of DUNE, a risk reduction counter. The ASBL offers several other services. In addition to medical and social support, it provides a shower, a washing machine and clothes. While the machine is running, it’s time for a coffee. O. tries to convince her boyfriend to pose in front of the poster, but she is the one who will pose.
L. is in the reception room of the CLIP (Local Information and Prevention Counter). It’s an opportunity to (re)settle down and have a coffee. It’s also a place to take the time to talk to your peers and the DUNE team.
DUNE offers a holistic approach to drug users in very precarious situations, via a harm reduction scheme: prevention, information, access to sterile equipment, nursing care, doctors, social assistance, hygiene services, mobile medico-psycho-social support and street work, as well as community activities and participatory projects (radio, women’s workshop, art workshop, etc.). DUNE is also developing a free guide to social and health resources (diary and mobile application Le Bon Plan) and training for professionals.
“I come to do my laundry every Monday. But not just for that. I come for the atmosphere, it breaks my loneliness a bit. Sometimes I don’t have any laundry to do and I like to come anyway.”
Created in 2016, Bulle is a mobile, solidarity-based and free wasserette for homeless or badly housed people in Brussels. We facilitate access to hygiene by washing the clothes of our users, with a view to individual dignity. The ASBL also proposes to (re)create social links and to direct its beneficiaries towards the competent services. In practice, Bulle consists of two vans, each equipped with two washing machines and dryers, circulating between various key points in the capital. With a minimum of five weekly pick-ups, some 275 kilos of laundry are washed each week, or more than a ton per month.
Bulle, a frontline sanitary and social service that is more than ever indispensable in the streets of Brussels!
“Ahmed is the best hairdresser in Brussels. What’s more, he’s open on Mondays. (laughs)
He takes care of us. We talk, we exchange experiences.”
The lack of infrastructure related to hygiene is glaring, the cost of these can also be a brake on their use when the priority is elsewhere, yet basic hygiene is essential from a health point of view but also with regard to the reintegration aspect, having clean clothes which are part of our identity and being clean oneself obviously participates in the personal (re)construction and the increase of self-esteem. Showers, toilets, basic necessities such as sanitary tampons, shaving, …. when one has no accommodation, are all problems to be added to one’s daily life in order to overcome them in the best of cases.
“The first time I found myself on the street, I had long hair and a big beard.
So when I’m not shaved, it means I’m depressed, I’m letting myself go.
Can you only take a picture of me when I have my hair done and shaved? “