The CPAS or Brussels public welfare centre
A group of fifteen people visited a social branch of the Centre Public d'Action Sociale
(CPAS or public welfare centre) in Brussels on 19 October 2010.
They were welcomed by the Director General responsible for CPASs within the Belgian
Federal Public Service for Social Integration, Mr Alexander LESIW.
The visit of the Brussels CPAS, one of the 589 centres across the country, was a two-part
The first stage of the visit focused on the tasks carried out by the CPAS (including the
regulatory framework), as well as its reception and social support activities, which are
carried out by the CPAS’s social workers.
During the second stage, the group of participants visited the premises used for
accommodating users of the CPAS and for the organisation of social-cultural development
activities for underprivileged children and youth.
Throughout the visit, participants were able to talk with CPAS staff who accompanied them.
When new requirements in terms of sustainable energy are combined with the fight against
poverty, the outcome is the 'energiesnoeiers' project. ’Energiesnoeiers’ (energy savers)
want to help save energy.
The concept? Allowing low-skilled workers who have not been employed for some time to
reintegrate into the job market by carrying out various tasks aimed at improving the energy
performance of buildings. These people are trained and monitored so they can acquire the
Thanks to support from various government levels and various partnerships, the first stage
of this project is free: individuals and companies request an 'energy audit' of their buildings.
People living in poverty then carry out this audit, after this analysis a project then moves to
the second stage: implementing the necessary adaptations.
This approach is beneficial for people who, as a result, can be integrated in the job market
again and who take pride in contributing to a topical and important issue for our planet, as
efforts in terms of sustainable energy are enhanced so is the integration of these workers
back into the job market..
Ferme de nos Pilifs, (Social economy farm)
We had to overcome a few obstacles and the pouring rain, but in the end twenty of us
visited the Ferme de Nos Pilifs. The ‘Ferme de nos pilifs’ is a social economy project
located in Brussels. It is a farm that provides training and a social network for 120 people
with disabilities. The farm provides a lot of services such as gardening, plant nursery and
packaging activities and so on. There is also a petting farm with a cafe and bakery. Most
employees progress from special education to the farm. The purpose of the farm is to
provide these people with a good, pleasant job, whereby the employees understand the
importance of their job. However, customer contact is also very important.
Since many people can no longer deal with the stress and alienation on the current job
market it is very important to offer alternative employment. The farm has its own income
and the lower productivity of some workers is offset by subsidies.
The farm also strives to be integrated in the neighbourhood. Hence the great importance
that the owners attach to the petting farm, the accessibility of green space, at any time of
day. Thus, the farm is an asset to the neighbourhood and any potential thresholds between
the neighbourhood and people with disabilities can be reduced.
It was a pleasant and inspiring visit, in a green space amid the hustle and bustle of the city
Spullenhulp – Les Petits Riens
Most Belgians associate Spullenhulp with its containers where people can deposit disused
but not worn out clothes or other items for a second life within its second-hand stores. The
visit to Spullenhulp in the context of the 9 Round Table taught participants that there is
much more to Spullenhulp than these two aspects, which the general public knows so well.
Spullenhulp offers shelter and counselling to homeless people, provides cheap food for
those who cannot purchase food from supermarkets due to financial constraints, has a
social restaurant and employs a large group of people who cannot be included in the
During the visit we were given a brief introduction on Spullenhulp’s activities, followed by a
tour of the premises in Amerikaansestraat in Brussels. Finally, a social worker explained
the social activities of Spullenhulp. The participants (about 20) were excited and very
interested. Unfortunately around 10:15 a.m. we had to leave for the Round Table, but the
participants still had many questions.
The activities of community centre ‘t Lampeke are explicitly geared to people from the
neighbourhood and beyond who, for whatever reason, are socially vulnerable or in danger
of becoming socially vulnerable. ‘t Lampeke’s aim is to pay attention to underprivileged
groups and to break through the poverty cycle by supporting people and showing them how
to deal with their problems.
Educational support takes an important place in the activities of 't Lampeke. Combating
social exclusion is linked to supporting families. The non-profit association consists of four
different centres, which work in different locations in the neighbourhood. One of these
branches is Kinderwerking Fabota (children’s centre). Kinderwerking Fabota targets
neighbourhood children between the ages of 2.5 and 14.
Site visit ATD – Fourth World
The rainy weather did not exactly contribute to the appeal of a visit by Brussels public
transport of the House of Knowledge of ATD-Fourth World Movement. And yet a group of
20 tenacious participants decided to take the daring leap into the unknown. The warm
welcome at the House of Knowledge, however, soon helped us forget our cold fingers and
feet and wet clothes.
After a hot cup of coffee we were shown an artistic merry-go-round: the group’s joint
creativity resulted in a colourful work of art. The visitors and the supporters of the House of
Knowledge explained how the house worked and elaborated on its significance in their
lives. The power of culture as a tool against poverty was thus explained based on a
The visitors were asked to explore the centre in order to gain an overview of the artistic
expressions in the House of Knowledge. Even the garden and the centre’s cellars were
explored by the curious visitors, who expressed their amazement about the exuberant
artistry of the participants in the House of Knowledge’s activities. Meanwhile the clouds had
cleared so the return to the conference centre was uneventful.