History

Context

Historically, the population of the centre of Brussels has always included a large proportion of poor people, and this is still the case today. People from all over the country come to Brussels with the hope of finding new opportunities and a better life. The city also draws a lot of asylum seekers, both with and without papers. The situation in the capital of Europe is getting worse and is now quite alarming.

A few figures:

  • The Brussels Region has some 4,187 homeless people[1],
  • 100,000 people don’t have valid resident’s permits[2],
  • 10% of families don’t have access to sanitary facilities, e.g. use of a bathroom,
  • 30% of the population lives below the poverty line,
  • In Brussels, 1 child in 3 is living in poverty[3].

Observations that led to the birth of DoucheFLUX:

  • Showers, launderettes and lockers … and enough of them! The existing infrastructure is too expensive for many people facing extreme poverty, and their use is often subject to conditions that effectively exclude them.
  • There is a shortage of meaningful and stimulating activities open to those people.
  • There is no central, up-to-date source of information about social services available in Brussels.

The DoucheFLUX project grew from the realisation that there was a shortage of sanitary facilities and meaningful and stimulating activities for people in extreme poverty. With its new building, DoucheFLUX aims to provide the best possible service in modern, pleasant, spacious, stimulating and user-friendly facilities.

The target population for DoucheFLUX extends far beyond the vulnerable people living in the immediate vicinity of the South station. DoucheFLUX sees itself as an association with a ‘low access threshold’, reducing the conditions imposed on users to the absolute minimum.

The DoucheFLUX project has been designed to complement the work of the various bodies active in the fight against poverty in Brussels. And we intend to encourage partnerships and synergies with individuals and organisations, whether from the social sector or other sectors.

Timeline

  • 2009: First awareness of the problem
  • 2010: Demonstration by the MANIFESTEMENT collective for and with homeless people living in Brussels
  • 2011: Field analysis and setting-up of the not-for-profit association; publication by Maelström of Revendications de (pré-)SDF bruxellois (Demands of homeless people (and those on the verge of becoming homeless) in Brussels)
  • 2012: Start of activities
  • 2013: Search for buildings, signature of the building purchase agreement
  • 2014: Building purchase completed, building permit obtained, ImmoFLUX social cooperative set up, full-time staff member taken on
  • 2015: Start of renovation works
  • 2017: Official opening of the building, start of services, recruitment of a team of salaried staff

The origins and development of DoucheFLUX has been told in the documentary Shower Power by Effi & Amir (2018).

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[1] According to the most recent statistics on the number of homeless and inadequately housed people in the Brussels Capital region, from 5 November 2018 (see the la Strada report in French or in Dutch).

[2] An estimate of … 2007 (see the ‘Baromètre social 2014’/’Welzijnsbarometer 2014‘). Accurate figures on the number of undocumented people are of course impossible to collect.

[3] More information in the previously mentioned la Strada report and the ‘Baromètre social 2018‘/’Welzijnsbarometer 2018‘ of the Brussels report on the state of poverty.