Projekt UDENFOR is currently participating in the international seminar ‘Preventing and adressing youth homelessness through human rights’ in Budapest. 40 young people from homeless organisations in more than 15 different European countries are gathered to exchange experience, methods and ideas, and to become a part of a European network of organisations and offers working with young homeless people.
Homelessness among youths is a growing problem in large parts of Europe. This includes countries such as Spain and Greece, where the financial crisis has resulted in youth unemployment, but also in Denmark, which is the country in Europe that has seen the largest percentual increase in the number of homeless youth within recent years. According to the latest statistics from the Danish National Centre for Social Research (2013) 1138 of the country’s 6000 homeless people are under the age of 25.
”In Denmark, several of the young people live in ”hidden homelessness”. They are hide to spot on the streets and are not the first to knock on the door to the shelter to ask for a place to sleep. There may be multiple reasons for this. Among other things, they don’t want to be characterized as being homeless, and that homeless environments are too tough and unfamiliar to cope in. The young people will at any time prefer to seek out other possibillities and typically, at least for a while, stay with friends, aquintances or family as couch surfers. This is a reality that several of the seminar’s European participants know of,” says Anne Kirkegaard, as a representative for projekt UDENFOR in Budapest.
The seminar is organised in cooperation between FEANTSA (The European Federation of National Oganisations Working with Homeless People) and Counsil of Europe. Through a week of education and group work, participants are prepared to utilize basic human rights as a tool to help the young homeless people. Additionally, the goal is to get to know each other and in union to set common goals.
”The participants are greatly dedicated, and we have lots to learn from each other. There are of course great differences between the European countries, linked to different legislations and local norms and social structures, but we also experience that the tendencies and problems met in working with homeless youths are highly similar. For example that people who are significantly exposed often fall out of the system, when they cross into adulthood, which can be a tough change without the right support. Therefore, there are good opportunities for inspiring each other in ways of tackling and preventing homeless youth,” Anne Kirkegaard comments after the first three days in Budapest.
Even if the seminar ends Friday, the cooperation continues between the countries, so that we may make use of each others’ experience, successes, mistakes and visions.