Jérémie Langen - Inclusion starts in the shelter

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Since the reorganisation of the service dedicated to refugees and migrants, Jérémie Langen has been in charge of the service which deals with the accommodation and support of applicants for international protection (IPR) in the various shelters. The service comprises some 60 staff members in 12 shelters, providing support to almost 1,200 people.

Why did you set up a separate service dedicated to refugee shelters?

Over the last fifteen years, and even more so since the large arrival of refugees in Luxembourg after 2015, the Caritas Solidarité et Intégration service has continued to grow. Therefore, in 2020, the necessity was felt to divide the service into three, including one dedicated to refugees staying in shelters and the management of these collective structures. In 2020, with the sanitary crisis, the teams remained in contact with the residents to support them, to implement the various sanitary measures, to find solutions, etc. Fortunately, we have been able to count on our educators, social workers and psychologists, who - I am proud to say - have worked hard and continue to work hard to help the people we welcome into our shelters to get through this even more difficult time for them and to see the end of the tunnel with greater serenity.

What would you like to focus on in the coming months and years?

The aim is to prepare the refugees for life outside the shelter. At Caritas Luxembourg, we have always been convinced that the inclusion of refugees in our society starts at the shelter. In fact, we have never waited for refugees to have their status before encouraging them to learn the language, follow training courses or get involved in society. We believe that even if they are rejected, they will have acquired skills that they will be able to use everywhere else. And for those who are lucky to stay, what they have learned during their period in the shelter will then enable them to better integrate into society. For those who have not been able to grow up in a family or go to school, this educational support is even more fundamental.

To reinforce this support, our three services have joined forces to launch the "Passport to the Future" project. This project should give the residents of our shelters the tools they need to become more independent (for example, knowing how to manage a budget, housing, etc.), understand how our society works (including the job market, the housing market, the school system, the medical system, but also our habits and customs), and thus better envisage their life outside the shelter. Today, many of our residents are still afraid of leaving the shelter and having to live alone in their own home, left to their own devices in a society that is often very different from their own and in which they have few points of reference. They need to be prepared for what awaits them!

Another challenge is to ensure that the teams in the field continue the initiatives and projects they set up while maintaining their characteristic dynamism.  They are the ones who are in daily contact with the residents and are best placed to develop new project ideas that improve the support and life of our residents.  One of my missions is to encourage all these initiatives in the field, because life in a community is not always simple on a daily basis.

What do you like about what you do?

It's not only the diversity of the actions that can be put in place, but also and above all the cultural diversity of the people I work with, whether they are residents or staff. I learn a lot from them and it enriches my life. Another thing that motivates me is knowing that we are working for the good of people, so that they can succeed. I am very happy every time a resident finds a job or a home. Finally, I am happy to be able to count on a great team motivated by love for each other.

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