Still in its infancy, the European Homeless Mobile Citizen Network was established with its aim to create a truly effective Europe wide network of agencies working with homeless mobile EU citizens. Additionally drafting together models of good practice, policy recommendations and a platform for shared learning.
We’ve recently been commissioned to help realise this brief. Exploring effective ways of sharing information for key agencies throughout Europe, working to ensure effective practice in EU migrant homelessness and destitution.
It’s proven a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference at a time when the highest quality of practice amongst these invaluable agencies, who work at capacity to manage movement of people throughout Europe is a necessity.
Working with Feantsa and there Europe wide brief for managing homelessness we collaborated with partner agencies from Lithuania, Denmark, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Greece and the UK in understanding the challenge and implementing a platform that truly could compliment and advance the fantastic work that is carried out.
Outcomes to date have included building a permanent and evolving web resource and developing processes for major European agencies working within EU migrant homelessness and destitution to access and share key practice and development.
Collaboration & Creation, ‘The Value of a Network’
The right to free movement is one of the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Numerous people make use of this right every day and many people have permanently established a new life abroad, thus contributing to the wealth and growth of the host society. However, there is a small but significant proportion of EU citizens for whom moving to another Member State has become a poverty trap. They are destitute and homeless and face difficulties in accessing the right support. Their vulnerable situation is closely linked to EU policies and legislation in the area of free movement of citizens as well as internal migration law and its interpretation at national level.
In several major cities of North-Western EU countries, EU mobile citizens are amongst the most affected by homelessness and, although the main trend concerns people moving from Central and Eastern European countries to Western Europe, recent reports in the press refer to homeless people who have left Southern EU countries. According to a FEANTSA survey conducted in 2012, homeless services from 12 EU Member States report a growing proportion of immigrants among service users (On the Way Home, 2012).
According to UK Department of Communities and Local Government ‘s data in 2013 28 % of the total amount of rough sleepers in London are from Central and Eastern Europe, 11 % are from other European Union Member States. According to a recent report, in Copenhagen 213 homeless rough sleepers were from Eastern European EU-countries (Projekt Udenfor, 2012 ).
Regarding the worsening situation, public authorities in some Member States (such as the UK, Ireland and Denmark) have introduced ‘reconnection’ programmes for EU citizens who are homeless. However, there is no obligation for Member States implementing this kind of programmes to ensure that people who return back will not be homeless upon arrival in their country of origin. Evidence shows that some of those people returning to their country of origin experience homelessness when they arrive (On the Way Home? FEANTSA, 2012).
Sustainable and targeted solutions are needed and can be found only through a partnership between organisations working with homeless people both in the countries of origin and countries of destination.
An effective European network provides a paramount support in terms of exchange of experience and policy development. Indeed, organisations working with homeless in countries such as UK, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands are often looking for partnerships with organisations working in countries from where a significant amount of citizens move and unfortunately become destitute.
A European network working on this specific issue enables organisations to find the better solution for individuals through integration in the country where they moved or, if they wish so, through a ‘reconnection’ to their countries of origin that effectively prevent them from being socially excluded.