St Gilles: Industrial building converted into much-needed childcare facility

​Crèche Lily, St Gilles district in Brussels
​A new and attractive day-care centre for young children has been opened in Brussels, after renovation of an abandoned warehouse. Offering up to 24 places in the city’s St Gilles district, it is a boon for local people – many of them single parents working part-time or in training. Crèche Lily opened in June 2012 and caters to youngsters aged between three months and three years. Like many day-care centres in St Gilles, it allows parents to leave their children for just a few hours if required. This arrangement is ideal in a district where many people are busy single parents working part-time, or are seeking jobs or in training. Total investment for the project “Crèche Lily” is EUR 1 million, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 600000 from the Operational Programme “Brussels Capital Region”.
 
The project is one of several initiatives in this district aimed at allowing as many people as possible to access the job market, a new local training centre, or the St Gilles local economy unit (Guichet d'Economie Locale). This unit is based in the same street as Crèche Lily and aims to socially and economically stimulate disadvantaged areas, for example by helping would-be entrepreneurs with their business plans, financing and training. The extensively renovated old warehouse is now a low-energy building, helping to reduce electricity and heating bills. Two sections of the centre provide accommodation for the children. There are also equipment rooms, toilets, a kitchen, and storage and staff facilities.
 
At any one time, the crèche is training four people to work with young children. The aim is to boost the local economy and encourage social innovation, with the support of the local CPAS (public social services centres). By the end of 2013, Crèche Lily had directly created five full-time equivalent jobs and indirectly created another four, mainly for women. St Gilles has worked with an organisation committed to reserve a third of crèche places for families that are looking for work or training; the families therefore benefit from lower social fees. Eight of the centre’s places are allocated to the children of parents who receive financial support from the CPAS, or who are following a social or professional inclusion course in Brussels.