The Al-Arm and Arktos social organization now resides in the old doctor’s villa in Bass in Gil, where the Justice of the Peace was housed until two years ago. “After all these years without a place of his own, this is a dream come true.”
The horror was great four years ago when the Department of Justice decided to shut down the Justice of the Peace in Gil and move to Mall. That court was in the former doctor’s villa at the corner of Bass and Docter Peterstraat. But since this building is so outdated, years ago Geelse City Council had a private space built next to the Town Hall in the Ecodroom project for €1.2 million to house the future Peace Justice. At the end of 2019, Peace Justice in Gil finally closed its doors and since then the signature villa in the driveway has been empty.
So far, as staffers Licelot Fleur and Stephanie van den Eyende of vzw Al-Arm, the Gilles association where the poor speak, have resided in a temporary office on the first floor of the stately building. A lot of adjustments still have to be made before the new meeting center opens on October 17, the International Day against Poverty. Although Al-Aram has been active in Jill for years, this is the first time that the association has a place of its own.
“We used to be in Diestseweg alongside the city’s equal opportunity service,” says Licelot Fleur. “It was not at all practical to develop your own process, because you always had to find sites to do activities, give guidance or have personal conversations. Whereas the poor only need a stable structure. We can finally offer that here.”
Jill City Council had hoped that he could combine the various effects of poverty within the city into the villa. But in the end the space turned out to be unsuitable for the food distribution at De Toevlucht and the textile shop at Mensen In Nood (MIN) Geel. In the end it was decided to take the place by the non-profit associations Al-Arm and Arktos. The latest Experience Center for Vulnerable Children and Youth wants to use the building as a training center. But it is Al-Aram area that will use the building very intensively.
“There is still a lot of work to do to make it ready for use again and wheelchair accessible, but we see the building’s great potential. It enables a very wide range of activities that we only dreamed of in recent years. We are transforming a hall The old court to a low threshold meeting space.In another place on the ground floor we are installing a digital point with several computers.On the upper floor there will be meeting rooms, one-on-one chat rooms and a place for people who want to develop their talents.There is simply no such offer for the poor in Jill. In the long run, we even dream of turning a small bathroom into a space where the homeless can recover. Yes, unfortunately there are a lot of homeless people in a generation.”
A big advantage in reducing poverty is the beautiful garden behind the villa. “Most of our audience lives in small houses or apartments without a garden. Here we want to install play items, create a vegetable garden, and teach people how to compost. It should become a place where people feel at home in a small group,” says Lislot Flor.
“Al-Aram” requests an original name for the new meeting center.
[email protected], www.vzwal-arm.be
“Coffee buff. Twitter fanatic. Tv practitioner. Social media advocate. Pop culture ninja.”