Corona crunch: Three good causes to support in the crisis


Businesses and non-profits alike are having a tough time as economic activity in Belgium has ground to a halt. Here are three good causes that need your money

Talbot House

The economic fallout of the corona crisis is going to be felt in Flanders for a good long while. There are businesses and organisations that might not make it to the end of the year, and there are others that will only with our help.

Talbot House is one of these. A popular stop for First World War tourists in the Westhoek, Talbot House is a lovely reminder of the very human side of conflict.

The house was founded in 1915 by British army chaplains Neville Talbot and Philip “Tubby” Clayton, who wanted to offer a place of respite from the horrors of the front line. British soldiers who couldn’t visit home could get a few days off to stay at the house in Poperinge – one of the few unoccupied towns in Flanders.

Named after Neville Talbot’s brother Gilbert, killed during the war, Talbot House became legendary among soldiers for its cosy, family atmosphere. There was a shop to buy simple items like soap and postcards, quiet places to write letters or read, a garden and an attic chapel.

A neighbouring space was converted into a performance hall for debates, movies and stage shows. Talbot House grew to become one of the most important institutions of the British Army.

In the spring of 1918, our founding father was about to be evicted due to the advancing German forces. He didn’t give in without a fight

- Talbot House manager Simon Louagie

The house is still open to visitors to see what it was like for soldiers more than 100 years ago. It is also home to a museum on First World War life, a guesthouse and special events. It even offers complimentary tea and coffee in the former canteen.

Talbot House relies on entry fees to keep its modest offer going, and of course there have been no visitors for several weeks now. “Talbot House is owned by a non-profit charity and run mostly by volunteers,” says Simon Louagie, the establishment’s manager. “The major investment in our new permanent exhibition, paid out of our own pocket, and the forced closure due to the corona outbreak, has left us without an income.”

It is, says Louagie, “a financial nightmare. It is going to be a struggle to make it till the end of the year.”

So Talbot House has issued a plea to the public for donations to ensure it can re-open its doors when museums are given the go-ahead – hopefully sometime this summer. Donors receive perks, such as free tours, breakfasts and even overnight stays.

“In the spring of 1918, our founding father, Reverend Tubby Clayton, was about to be evicted due to the advancing German forces,” shares Louagie. “He didn’t give in without a fight. Several eviction orders followed, to which he invariably replied ‘Shut up!’, before he was eventually forced to set up a new club in a few tents in a meadow amongst the cows. Talbot House doesn’t close quietly.”

The tent Tubby lived in, by the way, is part of the Talbot House’s new exhibition.

Fund for Supportive Care

The King Boudewijn Foundation, which supports national and international programmes working in social justice, health, heritage and culture, has launched a Fund for Supportive Care. The fund will be used to support hospitals, nursing homes and other residential care institutions across Belgium during and following the corona crisis.

“Every care institution is facing enormous challenges,” said the foundation in a statement. “Urgent needs are growing with each passing day. But even when the crisis is under control, hospitals and other residential care institutions will need to deploy huge efforts to be able to maintain their high quality of care.”

The funds raised will be distributed to facilities to help them meet short-term needs but also medium-term projects designed to guarantee sustainable care after the crisis. Some 70% of the fund will go to hospitals and 30% to care facilities, such as nursing homes, youth group homes and residences for people with developmental disabilities.

Donations can be made to account BE10 0000 0000 0404 with the mention “020/0670/00086”.

Buy local music

Face it: You won’t be getting into a concert hall or attending a music festival this summer. Nor will you be going on holiday. Just think of all that money you’re saving. And do you know what a €100 purchase would mean to a Flemish musician right about now?

The culture sector in general has been hard-hit by lockdown light. But you can support a big part of it plus get something in return just by buying music online.

Conveniently, there are a couple of sites that list album releases by Flemish and Belgian artists. Kunstenpunt Muziek lists all album releases by Flemish bands and musicians by month. If a single from an album has been released, the whole album shows up on the list, so search in previous months to find more sure things.

On Belgium’s UltraTop music charts, meanwhile, click on Releases and then on Albums. Here you’ll find the current top 40. Of this list, we recommend checking out Angèle’s Brol, Zwangere Guy’s Brutaal and Milow’s Dream So Big Eyes are Wide.

Other Flemish musicians and bands who were supposed to be on tour right now in support of new albums are School is Cool, former Hooverphonic singer Noémie Wolfs and Liesa Van der Aa, whose new album Easy Alice includes an impressive array of collaborators, such as jazz fusion phenom Lander Gyselinck and hip-hop sensation Baloji.

Where to download or order? Choose your favourite streaming site or go straight to the musician’s website or Facebook page. They’ll link you to their preferred site.

Photo Talbot House ©AGEFOTOSTOCK/BELGA, Sint-Trudo Hospital ©Dirk Waem/BELGA