An estimated 11,000 Roma people live in Brussels (2019), mainly from Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia and more recently Syria (known as Doms). They are an ethnic group that often lead a marginalised existence in their countries of origin and therefore face extra challenges in relation to integration. Brussels is also home to about 120 Rom, Manouche and Traveller families. Manouche and Roms have been here since the 15th and 18th centuries and live in caravans. They live on private land in Anderlecht and Haren, among other places, and at temporary sites in various municipalities.
Since 2003, Foyer’s Roma service has been a central reference point for Roma issues in the Brussels-Capital Region. Our aim is to promote the emancipation and self-sufficiency of Roma and Travellers, leading them towards realistic future prospects with an emphasis on integration through education, training and employment. Since 2015, this work has been supported by the European Social Fund (ESF).
As a second-line support point we provide information about the target group, offer tailored training and mediation at the request of services, schools, authorities and individuals. We have structured cooperation with a range of partners. Interventions can be requested by email or phone.
For Roma and Travellers, the Roma service is a first-line point of contact for mediation, family support, guidance, reference and information sessions about rights and responsibilities. For 200 or so Travellers, the Roma service is an important point of reference. People can drop in during our regular office hours (Mon-Thu, 14.00-17.00), call us or make an appointment.
In relation to current issues (education, begging, homeless families, etc) the Roma service offers support and advice to local and regional governments and to Brussels organisations and public authorities that work with Roma people. The service also makes recommendations on policies.
At the centre of the Roma service is a team of mediators of Romanian, Bulgarian, Syrian and Roma origin. Their mission has three parts: