History of the collective

Citizens CAN is an informal citizens’ collective that was founded at the end of July 2021, two weeks after the catastrophic floods. The aim was to create a place for exchange and coordination between the many citizens’ initiatives that had arisen to come to the aid of the victims.

Due to the chaotic situation prevailing on the ground, people soon felt the need to undertake joint actions, in particular to get in touch with the other actors (authorities, public services, Red Cross, etc.), to report issues that were going wrong / needs / urgent to be solved, to exchange ideas and try to coordinate actions with them.

Currently, the collective is continuing its work to connect the actors in order to facilitate the assistance to the victims of the disaster (which is still ongoing in the field).

Our Objectives

Our actions aim to support citizen initiatives for spontaneous assistance in the context of major crises and disasters. We try to bring the different civil protection groups into contact with each other and with other players (authorities, public services, etc.).

Our objectives consist of 4 parts:

  1. Create and maintain a space for exchange and coordination between spontaneous civil initiatives
    • Putting people in touch with each other
    • Provide tools to facilitate exchanges
    • Support constructive joint actions
  2. To facilitate contacts between citizens’ initiatives and the other actors involved in crisis management (public authorities, public services, Red Cross, associations…)
    • To defuse tensions between the different actors
    • To gain more respect for the work of volunteers
    • To raise awareness of the fact that voluntary help is essential in such a crisis and should be integrated into crisis management
    • To achieve better coordination between other players and spontaneous volunteers => better efficiency for all
  3. Centralising information that is useful for victims and volunteers
    • In particular through our Facebook page, and soon through this website
  4. Recognising spontaneous volunteering as a player to be involved in the anticipation and management of future crises

The charter of our operation

  1. Basic principles:
    We form a network for meetings, exchanges and coordination between movements of spontaneous volunteers who work for the victims of crises or major disasters.
    People who have been affected themselves can also become members.
  2. Language:
    Our group is bilingual French-Dutch.
    Language should not be an obstacle. Everyone speaks his own language and people who know both languages translate for those who do not understand. Concretely this means:
    • Language of the victims = main language

    • On the website: EN-FR-NL-DE

    • Public publications: NL and FR

    • Internal: limit number of translations – (English may be a solution)

  3. Platforms:

  4. Code of conduct:

    • Have respect for each other

    • Be constructive

    • Internal discussions are confidential

    • You do not settle conflicts with others within Citizens CAN

    • We are not a mediation platform between different groups

    • Those who do not respect these 5 points may be excluded.

  5. Operation:

    • Completely voluntary

    • Actual association

    • Specialised groups (depots, insurance, website & social media, inclusion…)

    • Regular internal meetings (1 to 2 times per week but often for one particular working group)

    • Global public meetings normally 1X/month

    • You can engage on 4 levels:
      1. follow the collective (website, Facebook page,…) – general public
      2. participate in Global Meetings – support groups
        • With auther associations
        • Victims
      3. Be part of a specific working group (private groups)
        • Insurrance
        • Gouvernement
      4. Be part of the management of Citizens CAN (private group)
        • Maintaining of the website
        • Maintaining of the maps geolocator (google maps)
        • Maintaining of our communicationplatform (Discord)
        • Communication with outher parties
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