The Public Centre for Social Welfare (PCSW) of the City of Ghent is committed to ensure that vulnerable groups can live a decent life with enough financial resources.
Refugees, undocumented migrants, homeless people, and households with low income have faced a worsening of their condition during and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To win the battle against poverty, the City of Ghent launched the Poverty Policy Plan 2020 – 2025.
This plan not only addresses people’s immediate material needs but aims to break the cycle of poverty through strategic partnerships, inclusive policies, and a developing a long-term model of material support.
The journey to establish a long-term model began in June 2020. The goal was to develop a model ensuring equitable access to material support for all people in need, regardless of where they live.
The Poverty Policy Plan 2020 – 2025 is based on the principle of emergency support under protest' (from the Dutch expression “noodhulp onder protest”). This principle implies that it is not enough to meet people’s material needs, such as initiatives to support the right to food. On the contrary, there should be continued efforts to combat fundamental poverty.
The Poverty Plan acknowledges that providing material aid is only a temporary solution. Alongside the Poverty Policy Plan 2020-2025, the City of Ghent has a well-functioned food bank system through the support of the organisation Foodsavers. People in need not only receive food but also personalised assistance, kindness, and a commitment to find more sustainable solutions to their situation. The support acts a strong tool to help people out of poverty.
“I can sometimes feel less than other people because I cannot provide for myself. This can have a physical impact because you cannot buy food or pay bills. But it also has an emotional impact: it is a vicious circle. If I want to get better, I must let people help me. I am still very happy that I took that step together with my social worker”. – Anonymous recipient of material aid in Ghent.
While the future of the material support model appears promising, there are challenges that remain to be addressed. Many of the volunteers managing the material support programme are growing older, and attracting new volunteers with the same commitment is challenging. Addressing this demographic shift is crucial to sustaining the model's success in the long term.
Find more information about Ghent's poverty policy here.