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Michelau : stopover for a new start

Tuesday 4 May 2021

At the end of 2019, Caritas Luxembourg had to evacuate the Centre Ulysse urgently. The homeless people who were housed there were temporarily rehoused, some in a building in Findel, others in small chalets in Michelau. Since then, if the people who were in Findel have all returned to the Centre Ulysse building in Bonnevoie, for those who were in Michelau, the adventure continues in the chalets.

Filipe Ribeiro, in charge of the Centre Ulysse and its annex in Michelau, explains:

We took advantage of the emergency situation to launch this pilot project, convinced that if homeless people are given a place they can call home, it boosts their efforts to reintegrate into society. Here they can make their own decisions, for example, decide what they want to eat, eat when they want to, meet the other residents, or retire to their own chalet, receive relatives, etc., which is not possible in emergency shelters. In each small chalet - former holiday cottages - there are two bedrooms, a kitchen open to a living room and a bathroom. People do their own shopping and prepare their own meals. They also look after their cottages. Some have even taken the initiative to grow vegetables on their small parcels. Each person is responsible for his or her own individual social reintegration project defined with the support of our staff. This project is carried out at their own pace, according to their skills and wishes, and most of them are completely autonomous. The educators regularly go to Michelau. In order to respect the privacy of the residents, the educators remain at the doorstep of the cottages and only enter them when invited. This is what we are trying out here in Michelau and I must say that it works. "

Rick, Pit, Marc and Vic (names have been changed), four residents confirm:

We have no regrets about being here. At first we were a bit hesitant. Michelau was the end of the world for us. The only thing we knew about Michelau was that in the 1980s there was a famous disco here (smiles). But in the end, the village is well served by the railway station and we can quickly get to Ettelbruck or Luxembourg City, if we want to. We are not isolated. At the same time, we are far from the problems that you can find in Bonnevoie or in the station area and that pull you down. Here we are not constantly aggressed - you know, it's hard to live in emergency shelters - and we have the feeling of a new start. The calmness gives us an incredible energy, which pushes us up and makes us want to get out for good."

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