In the face of the coronavirus, many inhabitants of the Charleroi Metropolitan Area have been taking action on a range of fronts. Here are just a handful of the initiatives that have been taken in a strong display of solidarity.
Of course, this list is far from exhaustive. Please do let us know of other initiatives you are aware of during these unprecedented times, at the address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meal delivery service for hospitals
Six companies including Ono Studio at Pont-à-Celles and Les Tartes de Françoise at Seneffe have got together to assemble lunchboxes for medical personnel. The company Copains.Group, which typically supplies retirement homes and regional hospitals, launched the initiative. After initially having taken round croissants, they brought these companies together around the lunchbox delivery operation.
In total, the volunteers have put together over 800 boxes containing sandwiches, muffins, organic drinks, etc. These meals are mainly being distributed to medical workers at CHU Charleroi and the Grand Hôpital de Charleroi.
A brewery making hydroalcoholic gel
The Chimay brewery has made over 100 litres of disinfectant gel. It purchased the basic materials and composed the product according to WHO instructions, under the trained eye of a pharmacist.
This is a wonderful example of cooperation between various local associations and enterprises as, whilst the brewery is manufacturing the gel, the initiative came from the Chimay-Wartoise Foundation. Furthermore, the glass factory at Momignies (Gerresheimer – have a look at our previous article) has been supplying the glass bottles, and the printers of Deshorme have taken care of the labels.
Visors and 3D materials for healthcare personnel
A resident of Sivry-Rance, Jacques Saintenoy, is printing protective visors using two 3D printers. An industrial designer by profession, he decided to act following encouragement from a doctor. In order to respect strict safety rules, he works with a biodegradable polymer which can be washed and reused. He has already produced over 70 visors.
In Charleroi, Martin, Alexis and Clément have set up a platform to create 3D medical objects. PCOM3D brings together medical institutions and 3D object designers (designers, engineers, scientists, students, etc.) to meet the demand. The site has also made available all of the manufacturing documentation.
The same can be said of FabLab Charleroi Métropole which has provided materials and expertise in a bid to supply the region’s hospitals with protective visors.
Municipalities supporting the self-employed and small retailers
Several municipalities in the Charleroi Metropolitan Area are doing various things to help retailers and businesses in the hotel, restaurant and catering sector…
In Courcelles, Montigny-le-Tilleul and Charleroi, for example, the municipalities have decided to freeze taxes for some SMEs and self-employed people. This measure is also being considered in Erquelinnes, Anderlues, Beaumont and Pont-à-Celles.
Gourmet menus for healthcare personnel
Contacted by the Princes de Chimay, who have been financing the raw materials from local artisans and producers and who ensure they reach the hospitals safely, Vincent Gardinal has been making the meals on a voluntary basis.
Hélène Lepère, municipal advisor at Cerfontaine, has set up a Facebook group to help people who are alone and feeling isolated. The group makes it easier for residents to help each other with errands such as shopping, picking up medicines, making masks… She also has a telephone number for those who aren’t online.
Other examples are appearing too, for example, supporting parents with their children in Erquelinnes, helping vulnerable people in Walcourt…
Some municipalities such as Charleroi, Couvin, Anderlues and Fleurus have created platforms on Impactdays, with the aim of bringing people offering support together with those who need it.
Volunteers and donations for the supply of face masks
The company Textilia in Farciennes, a haberdashery specialist, helps individuals to make masks. They provide the kits and raw materials and many volunteers have signed up to help.
In Erquelinnes, the Lions Club Haute Sambre has bought over 500 visor-masks for hospitals and other healthcare personnel. The community-based club has launched a programme spanning the whole country: it has raised over 150,000 euros in donations to meet the needs triggered by the crisis.
Virtual contact for our senior neighbours
With the ban on visiting rest homes, various initiatives have sprung up to keep older people in touch with their loved ones.
For example, in Thuin, at the Le Gai Séjour care home, one person is in charge of setting up video conferences between the residents and their families, using tablets.
Businesses are working round the clock to meet demand
Creaplex, a business located in Fleurus, has been working tirelessly to design plexiglass screens. They deliver all over Belgium to hospitals, newsagents and even transport companies. Whilst originally set up to service events and trade fairs, the company has adapted and is now making plastics to shield workers from the coronavirus.
Uniwan, an IT company based in Pont-à-Celles, sets up WIFI connections. Many companies have had to adapt to allow their employees to work from home: Uniwan has been facilitating secure remote working for a wide range of companies.
Countless biotech firms are also investing in efforts to stop the coronavirus. Delphi Genetics, in Gosselies, has taken up the challenge of developing an anti-viral medicine: meaning it could be part of the international consortium set up for that purpose.
Univercells, also based in the Charleroi Brussels South Biopark, is working on research to produce vaccines on a new site at Jumet, principally to tackle the coronavirus.
Citizens supporting shops, bars and restaurants
Three young Charleroi residents, Alessandro Pongoli, Aloïs Souris and Loïc Gallot have launched a competition offering 3 businesses from the Metropolitan region the chance to win an e-commerce site. From their business Ikody, they have created a tool for online selling from A to Z.
Several developers teamed up to create Carolo Resto, an app for ordering food from restaurants in the Charleroi area. Many different establishments signed up such as Manufacture Urbaine, Munchy’s Bar, l’Osteria Romana, Shape’n’go. Unfortunately, this well-meaning initiative did not get off the ground.
A helpline for entrepreneurs
Charleroi Entreprendre has set up a helpline for all entrepreneurs in the Metropolitan area (1890 or 0493 51 16 47). They provide assistance with all administrative and financial queries as well as any other matters.
Other initiatives to be discovered in your vicinity
Despite confinement, each one of us has something unique to offer in helping to tackle the coronavirus and providing help to those in need. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your municipality or seek further information, especially on social media, on the many initiatives springing up in our area.