[Cover art: ‘Buses’ by Max McCleave, curated by Cafe Art London]
Homelessness Outreach: Going to Where People Are
This issue of FEANTSA’s Homeless in Europe magazine presents our readers with a collection of articles about outreach work with homeless people. Outreach street work is a crucial part of supporting people in homelessness for multiple reasons. First, outreach can meet homeless people on their territory and in their terms, as people are often unable or do not feel comfortable with reaching out to social services in established locations or where a high number of individuals gather. Outreach also allows for access to a large spectrum of places where homeless people find refuge and can lead social workers to meeting people who live in cars, camps, temporary motels, shelters, libraries, parks, abandoned buildings, under bridges, in encampments or on the streets – going wherever people are! Importantly, outreach workers find themselves at the middle ground between the most marginalised and often underserved individuals in homelessness and the services who could come to their support for accessing housing. It is a privileged position that makes it possible to create relationships of trust and to facilitate contact between homeless people and social services. It is also a position which comes with great responsibility, which involves listening to people and following the direction they want to go in, allowing them to lead and fully participate in the process.
Without attempting to provide a clear definition of outreach work – since this can mean different things – we wish to underline through the articles in this summer 2021 edition of Homeless in Europe some of the important principles that guide outreach work.
Editorial by Simona Barbu and Dalma Fabian
From the office to the street: the importance of outreach in the lives of the most vulnerable groups by Américo Nave, Andreia Alves, Maria Carmona and Rita Lopes, CRESCER
Coming together to encourage vaccine take-up by Beryl Cross and Becky Evans, Groundswell
Possibilities and limitations of outreach work with homeless migrants in Copenhagen by Ana Maria Cioraru and Katrine Sanaker, Kompasset - Kirkens Korshaer
Time, patience and persistence: Reaching out to vulnerable rough sleepers in Copenhagen by Tabita Nyberg Hansen and Lise Torp Burmester, projekt UDENFOR
The Maraud’In Project: the use of digital tools by outreach social workers to promote access to rights for the homeless by Sarra Cheklab, Fédération des acteurs de la solidarité
Volunteering with homeless people: a necessary reflection by Jesús Sandín de la Vega, Solidarios, and Enrique Cuesta, Acción en Red Madrid