CONTEXT: A DIGNIFIED RECEPTION
Applicants for international protection have the right to reception for the duration of their application process. In reality, this right is sometimes difficult to realize when the people who are applying for international protection are seriously ill or have great medical needs. These people can count on Caritas in Antwerp and the surrounding area to guarantee a dignified reception adapted for their needs.
ACTION: AN ENVIRONMENT OF ADAPTED CARE
Once we have received a request for a transfer from a reception center, we work to find adequate housing and adapt it in order to meet the needs of each person in our individual housing. Needs such as wheelchair accessibility, sufficient space, etc.
Depending on the medical need, we call on external services to assure the necessary care is provided in their homes. We offer an environment of adequate care. Some ways we do this are by finding a home care nurse or a physical therapist, and also by referring to our team for primary and secondary care.
Caritas social workers provide applicants for international protection with legal and psychosocial guidance, but also guidance in the areas of education and professional skills. They also ensure a link between these people and outside organizations. “Language represents an important barrier,” explains Annick Schauwaers, a counselor with our team of social support for those with significant medical needs. She gives an example from during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Some services were completely inaccessible, such as a doctor who left his phone number on the door of his office. However, my client could not call him because he didn’t have money.”
As soon as the application process for international protection reaches a conclusion and the person in question is recognized as a refugee, we work with the family to search for new housing, adapted to the medical care needs of the individual. Caritas also helps with the first steps towards inclusion into daily life: joining a health insurance fund, opening a bank account, contacting CPAS with their new place of residence, etc.
OUR TEAM AND ITS COLLABORATIONS
Support and follow-up care for the people in the 19 reception locations is provided by a specialized team for social support and a nurse. They perform home visits and are available at the office in Antwerp, during the hours of operation. There is also a coordinator, who ensures the program is running smoothly.
The team works in close collaboration with other Caritas projects in the region, such as one for assistance with significant medical problems called “High Care” in Mortsel. They also work with volunteers in childcare, support for people with disabilities, finding housing accommodations, or help with translation. You can also join our team!