Mentor-Escale is a non-profit organisation founded more than twenty years ago (in 1995), aiming to provide support for young people in exile; Mentor –Escale defined as a guidance service for UMs. Our main goal is to develop and boost their empowerment.
Mentor-Escale has three locations: one in Brussels, one in Namur and one in Liège
Mentor-Escale is a bi community ASBL.
Nowadays Mentor-Escale employs more than 30 people and is highly supported by volunteers.
Our multidisciplinary team is made up of social workers, educators and psychologists.
Prizes and awards
In 2011, Mentor-youth was part of the laureates for the regional Awards of the BNP Paribas Fortis Foundation.
In 2015, Mentor-Escale has been awarded the price of the Fund Jeanne Van Quickenborne for his supervision of the young (future) unaccompanied foreign mother’s project.
The Fund Jeanne Van Quickenborne is managed by the Roi Baudouin Fundation . Mentor-Escale saw itself «beholding the prize because it reaches the most fragile public and gives a hihg importance to the wellbeing of young mothers and their babies, without taking the place of the mothers. It gives necessary confidence to start a new life in our society*
*cf. Fondation Roi Baudoin, https://www.kbs-frb.be.
This same year, Mentor-Escale has won a prize at PNB Paribas Fortis Foundation Awards for its work with the UM.
The 29th June 2016, Mentor-Escale was one of the six organizations into the final for the Federal Prize for the Fight against Poverty.
n May 2017, the Mentor-Escale School Project for MENA and former MENA was named the second winner of the Queen Paola Prize for Education. This award recognizes “initiatives that give real and significant new impetus to education, aim to improve its quality and demonstrate creativity and innovation”.
For the start: a meeting
In 1993, after meeting a young man from Roumania accommodated at Petit Château, François Casier, Chief of a company, discovers the refugee world. He helps, in different ways, the Unaccompanied Foreign Minors. At that moment, the state of the UM doesn’t seem to concern many. Willing to develop his action, he contacts the Mental Health Center. He helps in introducing to work a young Djiboutian, and, being touched by his loneliness and his need of support, decided to sponsor him.
Creation of Mentor
In 1995, François Casier builds up together with Exil, a program for sponsorship which will lead to the creation of Mentor ASBL. A mentor is someone who accompanies in a journey, helps to overcome the obstacles. The mentorship is considered as a moral accompaniment, without accommodation or financial help.
From Mentor to Mentor-Escale
Through the experience, we realize that mentors feel most times overwhelmed by administrative, social and even psychological questions to which the young people are being confronted when they live the hosting center to go and live alone. This is the way the idea of a real social service sees its birth.
In 1997, the association Mentor gets into fusion with Escale, an association which gives accommodation to 10 Unaccompanied Minors. This new project is supported by the Ministry of Social Integration with which a convention has been signed. The convention is renewed each year.
Mentor-Escale develops and frames out its support for the young exiled. Collective activities are organized, scholar support is reinforced, a post for coordination is created.
Towards creating a guardianship system for the UM
In 1999, Mentor-Escale associates itself with many institutions and NGOs to make a platform “Minors in Exile” with the idea to exchange their knowledge and to do a work of lobbying near the national and European instances.
One of the fruits of this work is the approval, the 24th December 2002, of the programming-law on guardianship of the Foreign Unaccompanied Minors, called Tabitha. Since 2004, the year this law was put into application, the UM arriving in Belgium beneficiate of a guardian until they are 18.
Employment of a new director
In 2008, Bénédicte Adnet gets the post of director of Mentor-Escale. Since her arrival, she did an important work of re-organizing the internal functioning of the association. In addition, diverse projects have been either put in place, either further developed to name among others:
- The project to enhance the scholar frequentation,
- Collective activities,
- Reinforced accompaniment to young people in transit homes,
- Accompaniment of the young mothers,
- Accompaniment of the most vulnerable young people.
Opening of the Namur antenna
The first of October 2012, the ASBL opened an antenna in the Wallonia Region : Mentor-Escale Namur (formerly PARI MENA). The team is currently composed of a coordinator, two social assistants and of two social interveners.
The Namur team accompanies 50 young people aged between 16 and 20 years. The social mentorship is like the one which is set in Brussels. Individual social and educative accompaniment and also activities are suggested to the young UM.
Still in 2012, a second ASBL, Mentor-Jeunes, was founded in order to respond better to the Belgian institutional realities.
Still following the actions started earlier, Mentor-Escale continues to equip its panel with tools which are meant to improve the accompaniment of the UM. This way, new projects have been put in place:
- The project « Host families ». This one offers to younger children and the most vulnerable a possibility to be welcomed in a family structure.
- TheHelpdesk « Manorea ». This one enables anyone who has questions related to the autonomy of the UM to beneficiate from the expertise of the Mentor-Escale Team.
- A new project of « Sponsorship ». This one puts into contact the teenagers and the tutor families to reinforce the relations that the young person has in Belgium.