After Brussels and Liège, another reception centre for the homeless is opening in Ghent, northern Belgium. This is the third ‘La Fontaine’ centre run by the Order of Malta’s Belgian Association. The first was created 18 years ago in the capital Brussels to support people living on the streets; the second was opened 3 years later in Liège.
Every year, some 17 thousand homeless visit the Belgian Association’s reception centres to receive healthcare and a hot drink as well as psychological help. Many of those coming to the centres are often forced to live in precarious conditions on the margins of society and human contact and a friendly voice can help combat loneliness. The ‘La Fontaine’ centres provide bathrooms for the homeless as well as a laundry and the possibility of replacing clothes.
From the viewpoint of the community, the centres monitor any infectious diseases and help to reduce the violence and potential aggressiveness of those who feel excluded, thus fostering their social reintegration.
The Ghent reception centre is open five days a week thanks to the work of the eight volunteers from the Order of Malta’s Belgian Association Order and to the generosity of donors.
The centre was officially inaugurated on 14 October last by the mayor of Ghent, Daniel Termont, and by the President of the Order of Malta’s Belgian Association Order, Arnoud Papeians de Morchoven.