Some twenty associations working with vulnerable people in Brussels will meet on Tuesday to take stock of the deteriorating conditions across the sector and to pressure the local and regional authorities to act.
"The aim is to have a state of crisis recognised," said Laurent d'Ursel, co-director of the non-profit organisation DoucheFLUX, who initiated the meeting.
Last week, DoucheFLUX, which welcomes people in precarious situations in the Gare du Midi district, announced its exceptional closure until 10 May due to excessive and repeated violence against its staff.
"We are the fourth association to temporarily close our doors in the Midi district," Laurent d'Ursel said, denouncing "an increase in the pace and intensity of violent situations" towards the sector's staff. "This is not a series of unfortunate incidents, but a real crisis," he said.
'Not only security'
For the non-profit organisation, the situation is indicative of wider problems in Brussels.
In particular, volunteers point to "the underfunding and saturation of reception facilities, the exhaustion of workers, but also the lack of affordable housing, the increase in the number of young people on the streets and the worsening of alcohol and drug problems among the public."
On Tuesday, some twenty associations, including Samu social, SOS Jeunes, the day centre La Fontaine, the Street educators and the Resto du Coeur of Saint-Gilles or the CPAS of Brussels-City, will meet in the premises of DoucheFLUX in order to analyse the situation with a view to calling on the authorities.
"We want the municipalities and the Region to take up the issue and recognise a state of crisis, with dedicated measures and a budget," d'Ursel continues.
"The answer is not only security, it is a multifaceted issue. All the players must roll up their sleeves," he concludes.