As the saying goes, in vogue: « winter is coming ». Even though the current weather is rather lenient, the winter will come shortly…
The issue of homelessness:
This period evidently raises numerous questions concerning homeless people and the manner in which all services can support the victims of the cold. Even though the winter isn’t as bad as in Quebec, our Belgian friends will soon suffer the brunt from the European cold. As such, certain measures taken by the public services allow the homeless to find a roof and comfort for the night. Coffee can therefore play a preponderant role to warm-up souls, while becoming a vehicle for sharing and conviviality
Surrounding and Planning the cold around a coffee:
In the issue #127 of the magazine « Vie sociale et traitements », Jacqueline Fastrès published an article called: « "Drinking Coffee”, An indicator of the fight against disaffiliation». She is conducting a study on the pilot project installed in the region of Tournai, in Belgium. During the plan « grand froid », between November and March, a night reception center has been installed in a former barracks made available by the military. It is one of the measures taken by public services to support and welcome the people who need shelter during the day. Similar solutions are also visible in France with the Emmaüs community. During the various exchanges and in the study of Jacqueline Fastrès, « boire un café » is a demand/expression that often reoccurs under the pen of the beneficiaries of these initiatives.
The social role of coffee:
« Boire un café », which means drink coffee, not only refers to survival, but rather the social relations generated by it. Indeed, «behind the hot drink, it is a welcoming ritual where the feeling of invitation is evoked». Therefore, coffee is a mean that allows us to gather individuals and professionals, which can help with specific needs and difficulties. The center and coffee are a cure for loneliness, as well as a way to maintain and recreate links. In France, trucks from Emmaüs circulate to generate sharing opportunities by reuniting homeless people, but also bystanders around a breakfast. The idea for Emmaüs is the recreated a social link between different people, around a common purpose.
Montreal Initiatives :
Photo Credit: La Presse
Many initiatives exist in the Montreal region to support and help maintain this social link. If we were to name just one, I would most certainly bring up the « Ô Deux Sœurs » Café, at the corner of Saint-Hubert and Rosemont. It opened it’s door to homeless individuals thanks to the movement « cafés en attente », (translates to Pending Coffee) by the owner Julie Gilbert. Visitors can therefore prepare a coffee or other available meals that will be served later on to the less fortunate. The initiative which was launched in 2013 is today the object of a website that regroups coffee partners as a whole. If you ever have a sudden desire for a coffee during a winter walk, do not hesitate :)