REYN welcomes a new hosting organisation in Belgium

The International Step by Step Association hosted initiative, REYN, welcomes Caritas Vlaanderen vzw as a new national coordinator of REYN Belgium (Be- REYN). Starting in March this year, the hosting role has been transferred from the Centre for Innovation in the Early Years (VBJK) to Caritas.

On behalf of Roma and Traveller children, their families, and Roma ECD professionals, we would like to thank VBJK for their commitment and dedicated work to improve the situation of young Roma and Traveller children in Belgium (Flanders).

In partnership with other Belgian organizations, since 2019, REYN Belgium has focused on working with professionals (such as social workers, kindergarten teachers, and family support staff) to ensure that children have access to basic and quality services.

Achievements have been remarkable, such as the recent opening of Ouderklap, a play and meeting group for Roma and non-Roma families, the qualitative study on the situation of Roma children in Belgium (Flanders), or the conversion of a trailer park into a school for Roma Traveller children, among other.

As part of the REYN network, the contributions of VBJK as coordinator of BE-REYN to the network have also been very inspiring.

“Creating optimal development opportunities for children is something very important to VBJK, but certainly also to me personally. How do we ensure that Roma families and caravan dwellers have better access to quality basic services for young children?” – Liesbeth Lambert, VBJK, Be-REYN coordinator (2019- 2022). Read the full interview here.

It is with great excitement that we welcome Caritas Vlaanderen, an organization with a clear focus on poverty reduction and proven experience in its frontline work with the Roma and Traveller population in Belgium.

Caritas is not new to the work of REYN. VBJK and Caritas worked together on a project for the development of a Spelcaravan, a caravan with play and educational activities for children aged 3 to 16 who stay on three public transit sites in Flanders: Asse, Kortijk and Lille.

In addition, since 2020, Caritas has been running a temporary shelter project in Ghent for people from precarious mobile living conditions, as well as a reference address for travellers for about 300 caravan residents in Antwerp. In addition, Caritas also takes on the advocacy of Roma and Travellers to bring about structural change. Read the guide on the legal framework for travellers recently developed and published by Caritas.

REYN International thanks both VBJK and Caritas for the smooth transition during the transfer of the coordination role. We are very happy that the commitment and dedication to building a more inclusive society for children of Roma and Travellers families in Belgium remains.

To stay informed about the Be-REYN network’s plans, have a look here.