BELGIUM

Type of mission

Clinical programmes

Background  

The Red Pencil, in partnership with the Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil), delivers group arts therapy sessions to residents who require immediate psychosocial assistance. Interventions are designed to address the existential distress, grief and loss arising from their situation and help overcome their struggles by building resilience to project themselves in the future and find their place in society. 

Over a period of three years, The Red Pencil will be organizing 40 cycles of workshops for the benefit of 500 newcomers living in some of Belgium’s asylum centres. Each cycle is typically composed of 12 sessions and targets 12 beneficiaries.

Partner organization

Fedasil promotes the integration of reception centres and also provides monitoring and guidance for unaccompanied foreign minors. It guarantees equal services and integrated counselling attuned to the specific characteristics of various target groups. The protection of personal integrity and the provision of a realistic image of the future are important points of attention in this regard. The agency wants to make an important contribution to the definition, the correct image, social acceptance and implementation of a just migration policy.

With support from its partners (such as The Belgian Red Cross), Fedasil focuses on securing shelter, food, and assistance to asylum seekers during the time their asylum request is being processed. The Red Pencil’s programmes complement very well Fedasil’s psycho-social approach.

Where

Asylum seekers reception centers managed by Fedasil and The Belgian Red Cross.

Art Therapists

  • Mamiaba Banernsco
  • Fred Bastin
  • Sylvia Delperdange
  • Sophie Descampe
  • Isabelle Dierckx
  • Colette Hellings
  • Anik Eyben
  • Sophie Levy (intern)
  • Karen Mosselmans
  • Natacha Pirotte
  • Annemie Sel
  • Sofie Vandaele (intern)

Beneficiaries 

The emotional and social needs of asylum seekers and, more generally, migrants, are identified to arise out of living the experience of separation, mourning and often having to undergo a traumatic journey to reach a foreign country. Therefore asylum seekers may be experiencing some of the stressors related to existential distress such as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, anxiety and depression as well as grief and loss.
 
Our beneficiaries are selected by Fedasil, and priority is given to the residents who need the most help. The content of our clinical missions is tailored to suit the type of care that the group requires. 
 
Over our 3-year plan, our clinical programmes will reach approximately 500 beneficiaries including:
  • 30% of unaccompanied minors
  • 10% of children accompanied by their parents
  • 30% of young single adults (between 18-22 years old)
  • 30% of adults

Objectives

For the beneficiaries

  • Enable them to cope with the difficult emotions relating to displacement
  • Empower their self-identity, through the creative process
  • Enhance their resilience of participants
  • Give them an opportunity to connect to others through group facilitated sessions

For the partner

  • Integrate psychosocial assistance through arts therapy in asylum seeker centres in Belgium
  • Advocate for the importance of integrating psychosocial assistance

Type of mission

Clinical programmes

Background  

In Belgium, like in most developed countries, cancer is a serious disease whose incidence on the general population is very important. In 2015, 67,087 new cancer diagnoses were registered in Belgium and about one in three men and one in four women will be affected by the disease before their 75th birthday.

While the bulk of cancer care remains the quality of medical treatment, it is equally important that patients, during their illness, feel good about themselves and their minds.

Cancer is a very stressful disease that can pose a wide range of challenges, including lifestyle changes, interpersonal tensions, existential crises, and social isolation. It is therefore very important that patients have adequate psychological and emotional support.

Partner organization

The Red Pencil collaborates with the King Albert II Institute, which is part of the Saint-Luc University Hospital. The Institute is the clinics’ cancer centre: it provides comprehensive and multidisciplinary care for patients. It is recognized for its expertise and the quality of its treatments.

Where

King Albert II Institute.

Art Therapists

Natacha Pirate

Beneficiaries 

  • The beneficiaries are outpatients who undergo cancer treatment at the Institute, at any stage of the treatment.
  • Cancer is often experienced as a rupture, an intense existential experience. It upsets one’s personal and professional spheres, it disrupts one’s social, emotional and family life, it transforms one’s relationship to oneself, one’s changing body, one’s entourage and to the world in general.
  • Cancer patients generally suffer from high anxiety, which is accompanied by phases of anger and feeling of injustice (“why me?"). The fear of dying and giving up others is very present. For some it is also a time to come back and look back at their existence. Many patients also describe a feeling of isolation, great loneliness in the crossing of the disease, and the fact that their families and friends may have a hard time understanding what they are going through, which can generate melancholy, depression and relationship difficulties. The image of self is impaired, particularly the feminine part for breast cancer patients. Some patients even feel guilty of this situation. Psychic suffering is then added to the decrease in quality of life already induced by the disease and its heavy treatments.

Objectives

The objectives of the mission focus on encouraging participants to express themselves and find coping mechanisms through art making in order:

  • to relieve stress and somatic tensions
  • to express, accept, regulate and possibly transform emotions to offer new perspectives, instilling hope and connect to creativity
  • to strengthen one’s sentiment of existence and self-knowledge
  • to create meaning about the disease and integrate it into a personal narrative

Examples of proposed activities were

  • using clay, modelling a place where you feel safe
  • make a collage of “what is present inside you”
  • draw your breath
  • make a visual poem
  • approach difficult emotions through tenderness and compassion
  • draw a difficult emotion and transform it.

Our work here

Number of missions: 

Long-term ongoing mission with Fedasil (and its partners) and hospitals.

Global impact in Belgium (projected):

Exile: 500 beneficiaries over a 3-year period

Health: 500 beneficiaries over a 3-year period and with 5 hospitals

Partners: 

Fedasil, The Red Cross – Belgium, King Albert II Institute (Saint-Luc University Hospital)

Programmes: 

Clinical sessions