Interview with Julie Degrieck, Mind the Gap

Interview with Julie Degrieck, Mind the Gap, The A Way Home Coalition in Antwerp

The  “A Way Home” model was presented during the months of September and October 2018 in Antwerp and Villach. What inspiration did it bring to you? 

In Antwerp the Mind the Gap group takes the lead in implementing the A Way Home model. This group with organizations from very different sectors, exists since March 2017 and has as goal to set up concrete actions for vulnerable young adults with a past in care or who - for the first time - are knocking on the door for help.

These youngsters  have  a huge risk of becoming homeless, and that is why we are eager to be part of the international A Way Home movement. We organized our two days Community Planning Institute in September. On the first day, local organizations from youth and adult care, housing and employment services, client representatives had a full immersion into the Canadian A Way Home methodology. We were very lucky that we could welcome four international A Way Home experts: Melanie Redman & Stephen Gaetz from Canada, David McKenzie from Australia and Hugh Russell from Wales. Their enthusiasm was contagious to all the 80 participants.          
They gave us concrete information on local coalition building and  convinced us of the effect of collective impact:  working  together in Antwerp with a group of relevant actors from different sectors towards a common goal can really help us to  eradicate  youth homelessness in our city. Above all,  they shared with us concrete tools and methods on “housing first for youth”, family mediation and on prevention and early intervention in collaboration with schools and youth services.
During this first day, we really felt that we could strengthen the already existing collaboration in the Mind the Gap group with the support of A Way Home. The day after we continued working in a smaller group: we started to build a local action plan to further enhance the cooperation between the Antwerp organizations, so that all young adults  can set up a network of service providers who understands their needs and provides answers that strengthen them.

How do you think you can implement it concretely? How would you create “A Way Home” hubs? What kind of actions would be needed?

Within Mind the Gap, a big group of motivated people from organizations coming from different action oriented sectors is already gathered. It comes as a  very good basis for the concrete implementation of overcoming gaps. The partnership with A Way Home is a chance to make this collaboration more effective and to convince organizations that are not yet involved, to engage themselves for the targets and actions described in the action plan.

In Antwerp we will organize the hubs and plan them in five action groups: Living, Networking, Continuity of Care, Prevention and Youth Participation. We will carry out some actions in a the short term, others will achieve results in a the long term.


Julie Degrieck