History Nl | FrEn



Inspired by Dr. Raoul De Smedt, De Brug (The Bridge) was founded on June 8, 1971 by staff from the psychiatric hospital of the Brothers of Charity in Mortsel (St.-Amedeus), the Alexian Brothers in Boechout and the Antwerp branch of the National Association for the Prevention of Epilepsy. All these institutions still have a representative on the board of directors.


In the first place, De Brug cares for people discharged from a psychiatric hospital or residing in institutions, mainly for social reasons. In particular, we try to avoid re-admittance in psychiatric institutions by:

1. Creating employment for anyone who cannot enter the regular labour market;

2. Finding proper housing and psychosocial assistance to single persons;

3. Promoting recreational and leisure activities.

The sheltered workshop started on August 20, 1973 with 15 disabled workers and 2 monitors; currently, it employs around 260 disabled persons and a staff of 60. The first expansion was completed in 1978, with a second following in 1979, a third in 1983 and a fourth in 1988, as a result of which the original building expanded to 10,000 m².


At the end of 1993 it was decided to purchase the Venneborg estate, where the company Mertens N.V. had been located for years. Since the renovation of the buildings, De Brug now occupies a site of over 55,000 m², including 35,000 m² of buildings.

De Brug is a company with its own rehabilitation purpose. The work is of an industrial nature, but focused on the individual possibilities and limitations of each employee. Our fifteen-odd departments carry out a variety of work.


The sheltered workshop should be closer to the regular society it wants build a bridge with. It must also reconcile its productivity and rehabilitation missions. It has evolved into a company employing disabled persons.

After a run-in period and intense commitment, De Brug has proven to be a means for many people to function more independently in interaction with psychiatric hospitals.

Useful activities and pay according to work give meaning to life, improve one’s social relations and often prevent a relapse.