Delivering a European campaign to end street homelessness

Thursday, 1 August 2019 - 3:07pm

Since 2015, World Habitat has been working with some of the most innovative organisations across Europe to deliver the European End Street Homelessness Campaign. In this blog Campaign Impact Manager, Patrick Duce discusses its impact and the vital contribution of Homeless Link.

Every year we’re privileged to see some of the most outstanding, innovative and remarkable housing solutions through our World Habitat Awards.  The winners in 2013 and 2014 were the 100,000 Homes Campaign in the USA, and the Y-Foundation in Finland, for their revolutionary approaches to tackling homelessness. Inspired by these, in 2015 we initiated a European homelessness programme which brought together the key elements from both of these winners’ approaches.

So, what’s happened?

We published our first Impact Report, which focuses on the successes and challenges of co-ordinating a network of individual campaigns across a network of European cities, all working towards the same goal – to #EndStreetHomelessness.

So, what have we learnt?

First of all, this has been an important start to actually ending street homelessness, rather than simply managing it.

Street homelessness continues to rise in almost all European cities. However, our approach is inspired by those areas where street homelessness is significantly falling or even ending.  So it was vital to properly understand who is ‘rough sleeping’. This meant taking the time to involve local communities to allow those experiencing homelessness the opportunity to share their stories, realise they are being taken seriously, and talk about what they need and want.

In total, the Campaign has encouraged almost 3,000 community volunteers to get involved and meet and listen to people experiencing street homelessness. This lays a crucial foundation for providing the unconditional housing solutions that people need to get them ‘off the streets’ and into homes. By the end of 2018, our campaign had moved 344 people into permanent accommodation, and created 163 independent Housing First units.

Secondly, we’ve also learnt how change takes not only time and leadership but, more importantly, it’s essential that key stakeholders have a willingness to act together. Without this, delivering meaningful change is practically impossible.

We are delighted to have worked closely with Homeless Link during this Campaign, as they bring invaluable experience in England. In Barcelona, campaign organisations initially relied on Homeless Link’s expertise in developing the MHCLG’s Rough Sleeping Street Counts and Estimates methodology, in order to build consensus around the true scale of homelessness. This has resulted in the local municipality changing how they measure, and respond to, homelessness in the city.

In Westminster and Croydon, Homeless Link played a critical role brokering relationships between local partners and offering much needed expertise from delivering partnership projects across England.

It has not all been easy, and progress in other cities has been different because they face fundamental challenges. For instance, Bratislava, where there’s no formal definition of homelessness in Slovakian law, and no Housing First services for people facing multiple disadvantage.

But whatever those challenges are and however we’re helping the cities address and overcome them, they have given us unique, cross-cultural experiences that are rare across the sector. You can see more on how each city is tackling street homelessness in the Impact Report.  

It’s vital for us that World Habitat demonstrates how we’ve used our independence and expertise to challenge the status quo by delivering this bold project. Crucially though, we also want others to learn from this project, and that’s why we’ve produced an online toolkit showcasing step by step how others can deliver a campaign for change in your local area.

We are proud of our achievements, and are confident that this Campaign shows that when people and organisations work well together, we get closer to that day when we have ended street homelessness for good.

If you found the Report useful or would like to know more, we’d love to hear from you, alternatively you can sign up to our e-bulletin to receive regular updates from across Europe.

Download the full impact report here.

Use our campaign toolkit here.

Sign up to our e-bulletin here.

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Patrick Duce

Campaigns Manager

Patrick is Campaign Impact Manager at World Habitat.