The VGC is committed to the infrastructure of the 22 centres and a total of 213 FTE staff of the VGC made available to the 22 community centres within the new covenants. The means of operation for these non-profit associations will also be fixed for the next five years. The local administrations of the community centres are further relieved of all kinds of business procedures through the conclusion of framework agreements, ICT management and financial policy support. The supra-local support of the VGC creates a firm foundation for the local operation of the centres.
Pascal Smet, VGC college member for community centres: “In the community centres, Brusselers connect with each other, join forces and have space to set up activities. The condition for this is a good relationship between the authorities, the civil society and the involved Brusselers. The process towards these new covenants has never been as harmonious as today. We had an open and honest discussion about everyone's dreams and tasks, which we will continue to work on in the coming years.”
This allows the 22 community centres to fully focus on their basic mission: community building. The centres achieve this in a broad sense, reaching a wide and diverse audience. In non-COVID times, up to 10,000 activities take place each year and the centres together host about 1.5 million visitors. More than half of them are welcomed by the local organisations, associations, educational institutions and active citizens who use the infrastructures. The community centres do not restrict their programming but leave open space to give local initiatives room to develop. In this way, the Brussels community centres assume a unique social and politicising role.
This commitment was immediately shown during the corona crisis: from meals to mouth masks, the community centres were always ready to meet local challenges. During this third wave, the community centres are once again at full strength and providing emergency shelter, play areas for families in De Kriekelaar and Den Dam, Christmas presents with a chat in Op-Weule and much more.
Cooperation as a major asset
In the coming years, the community centres will contribute to the new Strategic multi-year plan of the VGC, not without reason entitled “Working together to create Brussels”. The centres do this with countless volunteers, and especially together. In the coming years, they will work in an even more complementary and reinforcing way as an N22 network.
From the VGC and with co-financing from the 22 non-profit community centres, we will set up a trajectory in the next few years to create a content profile for each centre and a community charter for all centres. It will be a powerful statement of what the community centres are jointly committed to. After all, they play together like football players in the same team: each from its position and strength, the community centres have a meaningful role for and in the city. In this way, they are strong together.
Concrete cooperation between the community centres that will be supported on a supra-local level are, among others, the extensive school system and the reception policy of the community centres. All 22 community centres agree to jointly examine how we can bring as many Brussels primary school children as possible into contact with art and culture at least once per school year. Together, the community centres already reach 40,000 Brussels pupils, but they face technical and programming challenges that they can better deal with together.