It’s now a few months ago that I started working at Street Nurses. Whenever I mention this, I am often asked if my work is not too difficult. The question puzzles me each time, and my answer is always the same: no, my work is not too difficult.
I am a social worker, and I consciously chose to be one. Street Nurses gives me the means to achieve my objectives in a positive atmosphere, with a supporting team. The links we establish with our patients make my work rich in substance, fascinating and useful.
No, it’s not my work that’s difficult.
What’s difficult are the conditions in which our patients must live: cold, hunger, insecurity, loneliness, lack of respect, of contacts and recognition.
What’s difficult is to realize that the institutions that are supposed to help them are hardly fit to deal with the realities of the lives of homeless people.
What’s difficult is that in some cases the very mention of their homelessness deprives our patients of their humanity, and to such an extent that we must convince them that they are more than “a homeless” because they would otherwise label themselves as such – which happens far too often.
What’s difficult is to become fully aware of something I already knew, namely how much the mechanisms and procedures of society create inequalities that could have been avoided by long-term reflection and durable actions.
However, from all these difficulties I also draw the motivation and determination to help our patients restoring their dignity, despite all obstacles. To change attitudes in society. To ensure that ending homelessness does not remain a utopian objective.
Through Street Nurses, every day gives me a new reason to believe in all this, ever more strongly!
Doriane, social worker in the Liège section.