Over the last few months, I have been busy working on the topic of homelessness and writing a report on the role of social innovation and investment in the homelessness sector, as well as organizing a debate on this topic in the European Parliament.
Discussing innovative ways to address homelessness is especially important in the context of yet increasing numbers of people suffering from homelessness in Europe, and the increase of new vulnerable groups of people among them such as women, youth, refugees and migrants. Despite continuous efforts of social and political actors to address homelessness, ever more people are sleeping rough, so we have to ask ourselves the question of how we can better support homeless people in order to reverse the rising numbers and end the suffering of people experiencing homelessness.
Eurodiaconia members as social service providers working on the ground with homeless people showcase great approaches of how this can be done. For the report and the discussion, I asked members to present some of their innovative approaches to address homelessness, and the results were impressing: Specialized support for vulnerable women, adapted services for refugees and migrants, integration and outreach to homeless youth and a village for repelled homeless people are just a few examples of how our members react to the social challenges and diverse groups of people experiencing homelessness. Also with regard to identifying flaws on the systemic level that foster homelessness, Eurodiaconia members shared their expertise. A majority of members stressed the lacking availability of affordable housing, the inaccessible health care systems and labor markets as well as insufficient prevention strategies.
Diaconal service providers work hard to support homeless people every day and to find better ways of addressing this issue in the long-term, but unfortunately that won’t be enough to end homelessness ultimately. We need political and economic actors alike to step up for homeless people and change the circumstances that allow homelessness to spread.
Until this happens, diaconal service providers will keep on supporting those in need and fighting for a Europe which is free of poverty and social exclusion.
Have a good weekend