Although Autumn is approaching, Summer was still in the air when the Users’ Bazaar took place in Odense on August 29.
Current and former homeless people, politicians and a variety of different organisations was gathered in Kongens Have for what almost seemed like a festival for the homeless people with debates, food, music and a welcoming atmosphere where people could meet and mingle.
Projekt UDENFOR had left Copenhagen early to prepare for the event and was soon baking waffles – which were under high demand among the participants – while discussing homelessness and projekt UDENFOR’s work.
The bazaar was inaugurated by Jann Sjursen, Chairman of the Council of Socially Marginalized People. The inauguration was followed by a speech by Annette Wilhelmsen, Minister for Social Affairs, Children and Integration. In her speech she emphasised the importance of a social policy built on recognition and respect for the individual, and that the social action takes its point of departure in the needs of the individual.
At projekt UDENFOR Bibi Agger, Professional Leader and Deputy Manager agrees that the specific situation of the individual homeless person always needs to be the point of departure for the social work and that dialogue and inclusion are essential tools in succeeding with helping marginalized and homeless citizens. This is why we are looking forward to following up on how Annette Wilhelmsen will make sure that the social action taken has its point of departure in the needs of the individual.
After the speeches the minister visited projekt UDENFOR’s stand. She did not have any waffles but she was told about our current IT project which, among other things, focuses on homeless peoples use of digital solutions such as NemID. Prior to the Users’ Bazaar we at projekt UDENFOR had designed a poster for a debate about the acquisition of NemID as well as developed a questionnaire for a small survey we are carrying out at the moment. It is about some of the problems that we learned through out IT project exist for homeless people regarding the increasing digitalisation of society.
“This day was a good opportunity for us to talk to some of the numerous users and other visitors about the work we do at projekt UDENFOR. It was nice that several people decided to participate in our survey about the challenges and possibilities connected to the use of the Internet and digital solutions” Bibi Agger emphasises. She also tells that the responses gathered indicate that very few users know what it entails having a digital mail box which will be mandatory in 2014. It is essential that more awareness about this problem is created because if not, society risks marginalizing an already marginalized group even further.
This year the headlining theme of the Users’ Bazaar was “Marginalized Youth” and there was a panel debate about what society can do to help the marginalized youths struggling with addiction, psychological problems and homelessness. New research show that the number of homeless youth has increased 80% in recent years. At projekt UDENFOR we believe that action is needed in regards to reaching these youths which is a very marginalized group with coinciding problems and complex life situations. They live a stray life with fragile networks and in order to sustain any aspirations of not letting the number of homeless youths increase even more in the years to come, it is necessary that the systems of help and support notice and understand them.
After the debates and presentations were finished the day continued with music and food in the warm weather. We had brought “The Mobile Café” for the occasion which handed out spicy vegetable soup and bread. Throughout the day the food served was a convenient way to start conversations and debates about homelessness, IT and other subjects.
See you at the Users’ Bazaar next year.