Historically, Caritas International’s strategy of welcoming asylum seekers has always been in favor of individual housing. However, following the arrival of many asylum seekers in Belgium in the summer of 2015, we opened two reception centers to meet humanitarian demand (one in Spa and one in Scherpenheuvel). Since then, the situation has changed and the number of asylum seekers arriving in Belgium has fallen sharply. Today, only the center of Scherpenheuvel continues to be operational.
Caritas International has chosen to put the human being at the center of its action and this also guides its strategy for collective reception. To this end, the expertise built up during years of individual reception of asylum seekers serves as a basis for the work carried out. In Scherpenheuvel, we offer a collective hospitality on a human scale that allows the guests a greater autonomy.
Asylum seekers are entitled to reception throughout the asylum procedure. This includes not only accommodation, but also meals, clothing, medical, social and psychological support as well as access to legal aid, daily allowance, and vocational training.
In Scherpenheuvel, a team of 21 people welcome and aid asylum seekers in their daily lives. They are social workers, legal workers, night educators, logisticians, etc. and their endeavors range from coaching and accompanying residents daily to the dissemination of information and the orientation of residents, according to their needs, in the different aspects of their lives: integration of children, support for the (re) construction of a social network, training, employment, housing search, etc. A psycho-social follow-up of the residents is also ensured by setting up psychological assistance if necessary (team discussion on the most appropriate orientation).
Particular emphasis is placed on individual legal assistance and quality, consisting of informing, guiding, and advising the person concerned with the decisions that arise in the context of his or her asylum or residence procedure and his or her right to receive. This support allows the beneficiary to master the procedure in progress, to feel like a member, and to better make legitimate decisions.