Seminar: Women at Rock-Bottom of Denmark – Homelessness with a Gender

Sidste nyt

On 12th May is the date of projekt UDENFOR’s seminar on homeless women.

Meet a street-based worker, a head of institution and an artist, all contributing to the seminar.

Ida Devald
Ida Devald is a social worker and member of the street-based staff of projekt UDENFOR. She is also the manager of Project Locker Room. Ida contributes to the seminar with her experience from her outreach work on the streets, where she meets women whose homeless status may be difficult to see.

How would you describe the women you encounter in connection with your work on the streets? 
They are mentally ill and homeless, but neither substance abusers or chaotic. Typically, they are quizzical about offers of room at a shelter as they do not at all identify with the other residents whom they find overwhelming and sometimes scary. The mentally ill and homeless women often keep at a distance of the homeless environment where men make out the majority.

What is for you the most important message to the seminar?
The most important issue at the seminar is to point out that it is necessary to have offers matching the need of the vulnerable women. Presently, we can only offer initiatives based on the actually available offers. That is nowhere near enough, because this insufficient effort aggrevates the situation of the mentally ill, homeless women in danger of becoming chronically homeless.

Louise Runge Mortensen
For the past three years, Louise Runge Mortensen has been head of institution at Bocentret Sundholm. She holds a Bachelor in Gender Research and International Development Studies and is giving a presentation at the seminar about the barriers of the initiative towards homeless women, which she encounters during her work at Bocentret Sundholm.

What especially absorbs you in connection with the seminar?
I am especially absorbed by the offers for the target group are too uniform, not taking special consideration to the individual needs of the resident. It is also a problem that the too long time of residence at the shelters seem to make matters worse for the residents.

What is your most important message to the seminar?
An important message will be a call for working towards more differentiated offers, meeting the individual needs of the residents to a greater extent.

Nargiz Galib Andersen
Nargiz Galib Andersen is behind the motive of the seminar poster. Nargiz originates from Azerbaijan, which she fled together with her family. She is studying Material Culture and Didactics and is working as an on-call worker at a group home for people with mental issues. The woman in the poster radiates both strength and fragility, crudeness and beauty. We asked Nargiz, what she puts into the motive.

Your painting which we have used as a seminar poster, is called  “The Azeri Girl”. You have explained that it is a metaphor of an Azerbaijan interpretation of a “wonderful girl”. What is in it? 
What is in the painting is a metaphor of a “wonderful girl”. In the Azerbaijan culture, a “girl” or a virgin must be almost unattainable. She should be hard to seduce and be mystical and enigmatic. I chose to draw a ladder reaching from her body, which is like a mountain, to her face. It is like a goal of climbing a highly unreachable mountain.

The seminar is about vulnerable women. Could an “Azeri Girl” be vulnerable?
My road to Denmark has not been without challenges and emotional changes, and a new country poses challenges – integration, language. You feel like a child learning to walk. For an Azeri Girl – which I am, too – life is not without difficulties.

In your daily work, you (also) deal with socially vulnerable people. Do the two – your line of business/interests – your art and the social work – get inspiration from each other?
YES and NO. As a support worker, I humbly try to work with people and let it stay within the framework of the group home. I respect the people, I work with, and their feelings. In my art, I work with various subjects: The unconscious, missing my home country, and the light symbolising the hope within hopelessness. I try to tell a story in my own way. In my work, I am often engaged in political subjects; some of them are just a note of humour in a tough world.

Read more about the seminar and register here

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