WELCOME TO LE REFUGE BRUXELLES!

A shelter for young LGBTQI+ people in need

Le Refuge Bruxelles provides emergency accommodation and support for LGBTQI+ people aged 18 to 25 who are excluded because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We also intervene upstream in situations where young LGBTQI+ people are confronted with discrimination or other forms of violence and fear a rupture with their home.

Le Refuge Bruxelles started its activities in 2018 with a team exclusively composed of volunteers and a flat made available to the association by the City of Brussels. Today, we have around thirty emergency and post-shelter accommodation spaces.

Although we mainly target young LGBTQI+ people aged 18 to 25 from all over Belgium, we are flexible and always assess the calls for help we receive on a case-by-case basis. For legal reasons, we unfortunately cannot accommodate minors, but we can offer them follow-up and referral to competent youth services.

ACCOMMODATION, SUPPORT AND AWARENESS RAISING

Emergency accommodation at Le Refuge lasts for a maximum of three months, during which time we offer multidimensional support, including administrative, legal and social support; access to physical and mental health care; organisation of socio-cultural activities; help in finding accommodation; and assistance in finding a job, training or further education.

In general, we aspire to be a haven where young people feel listened to and supported. We seek to dispel their sense of isolation and to guide them on the road to autonomy while ensuring that all their needs are taken into account.

We are also keen to raise public awareness about our mission and take our message to different political and institutional levels: municipalities, regions, communities, the federal state and the European Union. In addition, our volunteers regularly participate in public events to raise awareness about our cause and to fight against LGBTQI-phobias.

TEAM AND PARTNERS

Le Refuge Brussels relies on a team of six salaried workers (management, social coordination, psychological support, specialised education, logistics and maintenance) and around twenty volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, who contribute to the life of our shelter by organising various socio-cultural activities with the young people, managing Le Refuge’s internal shop and participating in public awareness-raising events. We also work in collaboration with more than a hundred associative and institutional partners in Brussels.

ASYLUM SEEKERS

Since its creation, Le Refuge Bruxelles has reserved a certain number of places for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers who have applied for asylum in Belgium and who are experiencing serious problems of cohabitation in the official reception centres in Belgium. In view of the very high number of requests we receive, as well as for financial, institutional and practical reasons, the association Midnimo, founder of Le Refuge Bruxelles, decided to open a centre specifically dedicated to the reception and support of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.

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RAINBOWELCOME PROJECT

Since 2021, we are partners of the European project RainboWelcome, in collaboration with Pour la Solidarité (BE), La Fondation Le Refuge (FR), Acathi (SP) and La Croce Rossa Italiana (IT). This project aims to identify the legal procedures and concrete processes for the reception of LGBTQI+ refugees, to equip the structures involved with the necessary tools for the reception and orientation of these people, to raise awareness of the situation of LGBTQI+ refugees and to advocate for their rights and needs with the EU.

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Our history

In 2011, with the support of the then Minister of Equal Opportunities, Mr. Bruno De Lille, and with the help of the European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals (EIF), the non-profit organisation ACP (active in the defence of human rights in Africa and the EU) decided to organise a series of working meetings and to carry out in-depth research on the social inclusion of young migrant LGBTIQ+ people or with a migratory background in the Brussels Region.

This research showed that it was more than necessary to act for the social inclusion of young LGBTIQ+ people in Brussels, whether or not they are migrants or of migrant origin. This was particularly the case for many young people who experience rejection and exclusion from the family home on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The problem was real but, apart from a few private initiatives based on an informal network of solidarity, there is no effective solution.

The ACP association then put forward the idea, widely supported, of setting up a structure to provide a dignified home for these young victims of LGBTIQ-phobia. No public authority or association took up the idea.

In 2017, under the impetus of Mr. Ali Deberkale, president of Midnimo (in charge of defending the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Africa and within the EU), the project to create an LGBTIQ+ shelter in Brussels finally took shape. Midnimo contacted the French organisation of the same name, Le Refuge, which welcomed and supported the initiative. In November 2017, the City of Brussels grants its first funding to the project and this is the beginning of a beautiful adventure. On 18 May 2018, on the eve of Belgian Pride 2018, the project was announced at a press conference at the Brussels City Hall.

And the first anonymous flat made available to us by the City of Brussels opened its doors in November 2018.

Since the opening in 2018

1

Youths accommodated

2

Youths supported

3

Requests processed

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The people of Le Refuge

The team

  • Ali Deberkale
    Ali Deberkale President
  • Dimitri Verdonck
    Dimitri Verdonck Spokesperson
  • Mahamed
    Mahamed Social coordinator
  • Emelyne Willems
    Emelyne Willems Psychologist
  • Sara Kaoukabi
    Sara Kaoukabi Educator

Some volunteers

  • Marie-Laure
    Marie-Laure Volunteers coordinator
  • Jeremy Gobin
    Jeremy Gobin Communications person
  • Hans
    Hans Volunteer