20 Social Workers Out on the Streets to Count Rough Sleepers
September 8, 2017Most Copenhageners had already gone to bed, unfazed by the sound of the steady rain falling outside, when 20 social workers trailed through the streets of
October 6, 2017
The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, FEANTSA’s magazine ’Homeless in Europe’ dedicates the autumn 2017 issue to LGBTIQA+* and homelessness. Emma Nolten, who works as a communicator for FEANTSA, explains the reasoning behind this particular focus, as she points out that:
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer community is vastly over-represented amongst the homeless population, especially in the under-25 age bracket.
The autumn issue contains articles and other contributions written by researchers and organisations working to with LGBTIQA+ issues in a homelessness context.
ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, especially highlights the lack of political interest in the social exclusion that LGBTIQ persons face. ILGA mentions a study, Social Exclusion of Young LGBT People in Europe, showing that the liberating act of coming out can be the start of an extremely precarious life situation that leads to marginalisation and exclusion, even from one’s immediate family.
Referring another study within the field, the Major 2012 LGBT Survey, ILGA documents how LGBT persons face discrimination when they for example wish to rent or buy a home. As an LGBT person it can also be challenging to find a job because of prejudice or employers who are insensitive to one’s personal circumstances. Furthermore, ILGA points out that NGOs often have a narrow focus on the needs and interests of the white, educated middleclass. This segment gains political attention faster, they are seen and heard and can thus more easily shape the political agenda.
Many of the articles featured in this issue of ’Homeless in Europe’ emphasize the finding that LGBT persons are overrepresented among the homeless. In the article ’The True Colors Fund: Addressing LGBT Youth & Young Adult Homelessness in the United States’ the author explains that young LGBT persons represent an estimated 20 to 40 per cent of the homeless youth population, while young LGBT persons only account for 7 per cent of the general youth population. The article ’Homelessness and LGBT people in Spain’ presents similar ratios. We are told that although LGBT persons only represent 3 to 5 per cent of the Spanish population, a number of estimates indicate that around 35 per cent of all homeless people are LGBT persons.
In an article on conditions in the Netherlands, ’Out On the Streets: Why Homeless LGBTIs Run Double the Risk’ researchers from Movisie, the Netherlands Centre for Social Development, describe a number of areas where young, homeless LGBT persons differ from other young homeless people. The young LGBT persons have a more limited network and are more frequently lonely. Furthermore, they are more likely to have been threatened and subjected to verbal and physical abuse during their school years. Their mental heath is often far poorer than other young homeless people since they are in a constant state of stress, which the researchers fittingly label ‘minority stress’.
All the authors call for more data and more qualitative insights about youth homelessness and LGBT issues. This information might enable researchers to conduct more basic research and help the professionals who work with homeless people gain new competences. These competences are necessary to develop specific care services and targeted projects that address LGBT persons’ specific needs and challenges.
projekt UDENFOR welcomes FEANTSA’s magazine ’LGBTIQ Homelessness’. The initiative offers sound research insights and a number of references that can be used for praxis within or further study of an area which is fortunately becoming more and more visible.
In projekt UDENFOR we also contribute to a greater focus on LGBTQA issues; We offer relevant dissemination activities and in November we will start further training and educating our employees so that our outreach work better reflects LGBTIQA+ aspects and workers are better able to handle LGBTIQA+ needs and challenges.
* projekt UDENFOR uses the term LGBTIQA+, which is the English acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Agender, Aromantic. The plus denotes other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities and shows that the list is not complete. The most common version of the term is LGBT, a term that many find too narrow to cover the movement today.
Homeless in Europe
FEANTSA focuses on LGBTIQ+ and homelessness in its latest issue of ‘Homless in Europe’.