Homeless need Alternative Help

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Last Monday, projekt UDENFOR met with the Alternative candidate Uzma Ahmed. The following is the article subsequently posted on Uzma’s blog.

With projekt UDENFOR, the staff go on the street to help the most vulnerable people in Denmark. According to the director, the Government’s 2020 plans for homeless are unambitious. An alternative approach is needed, in which the homeless get place, time and are regarded as equal.

»Mr and Mrs Denmark and many politicians still believe that homeless are alcoholics on a bench. An issue that can be solved through hospitalization, rehabilitation and removing the bench from the street. However, homelessness reaches far wider, « says Ninna Hoegh. 

She is the director of the organisation projekt UDENFOR, and, together with professional leader and deputy manager Bibi Agger, she has invited Uzma Ahmed of the Alternative to the organisation’s premises at Nørrebro. This is where the staff is when they are not out in the streets, looking for the homeless. Here the kitchen staff prepares the meals, which they distribute in the streets of Copenhagen every night.  

Bibi Agger has been doing social work for a long time. However, projekt UDENFOR stands out. »When I started working here, I discovered that our users really are the saddest group in Denmark. Every day is to them constant survival. They are often very unstable, mentally ill and at times so distant that it takes several meetings before we can build up a relationship, « she says. 

Ninna Hoegh adds:   »Our target group are those that nobody bothers to play with. They do not care because they have hit the wall once too many. They have fallen outside the system and have no strength left to ask for help. We therefore seek out the weakest and work from the bottom up. Support them in their present situation. «

In order to get an insight in the life of a homeless, Uzma Ahmed sig reported on night duty at GRACE during a weekend in January. GRACE is a hostel run by Blue Cross in cooperation with the Church of Christ during the winter months. 

»The overnight guests could not get a bath, so they had to make do with the sink. The towel could dry on the radiator for 20 minutes before being packed and removed and before the service started. This set off many thoughts. How do we help these people in the best possible way, given their situation? « says Uzma Ahmed.    

This question is quite pivotal for projekt UDENFOR. According to Bibi Agger, an example is in the work with a hastily increasing group of young homeless. »The young people do not want to stay at hostels or be called homeless, and many of them are alcohol or substance abusers. It is essential to get a dialogue with the young people. In unison, we must find out why they have difficulties, what can they do and for what do they need help. We must show them that we can fathom that they drink or use drugs and that we want to support in getting the best life that they can have. However, there is no time or room for this in today’s society. Young people must either be declared fit for an education or get a job. For this group, both is quite unrealistic at this time, « says Bibi Agger. 

Uzma Ahmed is fed up with what she sees as the past years’ symbol policy of punishment and harsh rules for vulnerable people.   »I see that many land between legislation and life. They are ashamed and it takes a lot of work and trust to reach the vulnerable people and give them a push. We must reach them at eye level as equals. And this is not done through a single meeting and a questionnaire,« she says. 

 

Unambitious goals of the Government

The Government has set goals for 2020 in social work. Ninna Hoegh, however, is not excited, far from it.   »By 2020, 25 percent should be rescued from homelessness, which is actually quite unambitious. Why not set speed goals, at least for the young people? It is a question of life. We do not set a goal of 25 percent five to six year-olds to start first grade at school. We will look at the rest later. Are we to waste five years of a youth, only helping 25 percent out of homelessness? « And it is not just a question of getting roof over their heads. Intensive support is also vital.

Uzma Ahmed very much wants to be a part of helping young homeless to get the best life possible. »I would also very much like to create new sustainable ways of thinking jobs and homes into the equation where volunteers, the public and private systems cooperate in socioeconomic enterprises. Where young people can find a place where they feel as equals and respected for what they can do. « 

projekt UDENFOR share these thoughts. »We have many ideas for new possibilities in this area, which we would like to discuss with the Alternative. Because we most certainly need alternative thinking when it comes to homelessness, « says Ninna Hoegh. 

Uzma Ahmed conveys this message to the public during the final days of the election campaign.   

 

Text: Helene Chéret