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Emilie Meessen

Founder and coordinator, Infirmiers de rue

BACKGROUND / Academic and professional background

–  Co-founder and coordinator of Infirmiers de rue (NGO – Street nurse).
– Specialized in community health and tropical nursing
– Nurse during 4 years at La Fontaine : health, care and welcoming center for homeless people in Brussels.
– Installation of a dispensary and creation of a nursing position at Dume (a NGO for drug addict people in Brussels) in 2004
– Experience in health centers in Burkina Faso and in associations which work with Brussels prostitution.

ACHIEVEMENT/ What is the project/initiative/startup/company you will be presenting at the Positive Economy Forum all about ?

Infirmiers de rue is a mediator that reconnects people in a huge poverty and their environment with the care services.
IDR works with the most vulnerable people of the region of Brussels Capital, it means people for whom the mortality risk is very high. These people have been homeless for more than 8 years (sometimes more than 20 years).

Our goals are:
– to motivate people who live in a very precarious conditions to take care of their hygiene and health.
– to restore dialogue between these people and people who work in administrative and care services.
– to accompany them thanks to a global approach (psychological, medical and social) until they find a housing.
To reach these goals IDR has a triple action: patient follow-up from the street until the housing, training and tools creation.

LOCATION/ In which city, country, part of the world do you conduct your activities ?

– Street working in Brussels
– Training in Belgium and in some European countries.
– Disseminating tools manly in Belgium, and sometimes in others French-speaking countries.

IMPACT/ What is the positive economic, social, political, environmental…of the activity, project, initiative, startup, company ?

Thanks to these actions, IDR has a real impact on the homeless people’s situation. Our team is deeply convinced that “getting away of street is possible” and our action demonstrates it. We have focused our actions on the most vulnerable people whose no one cares and who have discouraged the social services.
IDR has notably adapted to the Brussels context the concept of “Housing First” with a project named “Housing Fast”. Our aim is to find long-term housing for particularly vulnerable homeless people. In this project IDR works with private housing but also with state structures like nursing homes.
The specificity of Housing Fast is to offer – after a preparation of the homeless patient – an adapted housing and a close monitoring (social and medical) to avoid a return to the street.

Key points:
– The most vulnerable patients: IDR demonstrates with its actions that reinsertion is possible and durable for everyone, including those who suffer from loud and multiple problems.
– A global vision (psychological, medical andsocial), tried and tested methods and tools for a lasting follow-up.
– Hygiene as a reinserting factor
– Revaluation of resources: an important work is made around the “revaluation” of people.
– A motivated and supportive team

QUOTE/ A saying, quote or reference phrase that tells something about you

Those who do not believe the impossible are asked not to discourage those who are doing it.

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