The Holiday Spirit: 10 charities for giving

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to express gratitude for what we might take for granted every day – clean clothes, a safe place to sleep and our health. That being said, there unfortunately remains many who struggle for these basic rights. We’ve selected 10 Belgium-based charities that are tilting the balance towards generosity and kindness for those in need, from professional mentoring schemes aimed at refugees to national animal rights charities. Most of which accept donations – Christmas presents anyone? – whilst others desperately look for volunteers willing to share their time and experience. Let’s make 2018 kinder.

Visual by Miles Fischler (c).

Accessible Healthcare: Free Clinic, Brussels

Given hightened political tensions around Europe and increasingly conflicting policies, it’s more important than ever to show our support for local family planning services. Free Clinic not only provides contraceptive advice and medical professionals for terminations, but also strongly addresses mental health concerns in their mission. Indiscriminate on race, religion and sexuality, they are a true multidisciplinary haven for support in Ixelles. Not to be overlooked. Of course, Liège’s Estelle Mazy is a force to be reckoned with, too.

For more information and to help out.

Youth Mentoring Scheme: Duo for a Job, Liège

For young immigrants to Belgium, entering the job market can feel like a daunting and impossible feat. Thankfully, Duo for a Job has over 500 professional mentors to offer them that crucial step up. The numbers don’t lie: 73% of mentees with a positive outcome after 12 months and 94% of mentors re-enrolling are surely achievements to not be undermined. What’s not to like?

For more information and to donate.

Rebuilding Familial Relationships: Relais Enfants-Parents, Brussels

It’s easy to overlook the astonishing number of families torn apart when parents are incarcerated in the Belgian justice system. However, thanks to Relais Enfants-Parents working across 11 prisons, thousands of children have been reunited with their parents behind bars. They’ve become truly indispensable in their plight of providing exhaustive psychological and practical necessities in repairing these parent-child relationships. Go show some love.

For more information and to donate.

Supporting LGBTQ+: Çavaria, Ghent

Founded in the ’70s, Ghent-based Çavaria are veterans in championing equality. From offering practical guidance for LGBTQ+ issues at Holebifoon to addressing concerns and raising awareness with their online magazine ZiZo. Undoubtedly, Çavaria has become a crucial pillar for gender equality and freedom of identity in Flanders – as its counterpart Alias Bru is in Brussels. Class acts.

For more information and to donate. 

Helping the Homeless: Douche Flux, Brussels

It’s impossible to spend a day in central Brussels without coming across at least one homeless person. Despite Belgium’s prosperity, it’s the mission of organisations like Douche Flux to recalibrate inequality and bring some dignity to those who have fallen on hard times. Simple things like a hot shower, washing machines and a friendly face can go so far and mean so much – things which Douche Flux is ademant is a universal right. Not to mention on-hand mental and physical health advice to make sure they’re feeling as good as new. It’s too cold not to help.

For more information and to donate.

Encouraging Community Cohesion: Tumult, Mechelen

For disadvantaged and refugee children, the excitement of camp is often a distant possibility. That’s why Tumult is dedicated to bringing kids – from the ages of 6 to 15, from all walks of life – together for a week they’ll never forget. A fun and constructive opportunity for kids to have good old-fashioned fun and making friends. What’s better than that?

For more information and to help out.

Transferring Sick Kids: Sun Child, Brussels

Every parents’ worst fear is their child falling critically ill. Supporting a sick child can feel like an impossible task, and that’s why organisations like Sun Child offer an imperative lifeline to families in need. Taking responsibility for transportation – if these kids smile for one extra hour in their day then it’s job well done. Undoubtedly, L’Arche is another fantastic children’s charity, specifically for those suffering with mental illnesses.

For more information and to donate.

Assisting Animal Rights: Blue Cross, Brussels

Founded in between the two Great Wars, the Blue Cross has been Belgium’s biggest animal welfare charity for close to a century now. Shelter, food and veterinary care are indispensable for these at-risk pets and farm animals. Beyond this, Blue Cross aims to educate and raise awareness about animal welfare issues. Even though this might seem an obvious choice, Blue Cross truly is a bedrock of our society.

For more information and to donate.

Youth Volunteers: Solidarcité, Brussels/Liège

Millenials tend to be branded as lazy and ungrateful – thankfully, Solidarcité is trying to turn those stereotypes on it’s head, offering budding volunteers from the ages of 16 to 25 the opportunity to help their local community, show team commitment and get relevant experience for their future professional lives. They’re always on the look-out for support, but their next round of volunteering starts in January. Spread the word.

For more information and to donate. 

Rehabilitating Domestic Violence Survivors: CVFE, Liège

For women in an abusive relationship, there often seems to be no-way out. Especially if there’s financial dependency or children involved. Luckily that’s where CVFE, or Collectif Contre les Violences Familiales et l’Exclusion, step up. From a 24/7 hotline to long-term socio-economic support for isolated individuals, reclaiming freedom for these domestic abuse survivors is their main concern.

For more information and to donate.