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Local agencies and volunteers in Bratislava will be coming together this week to survey and listen to some of the thousands of homeless people sleeping on the streets of the city’s Old Town. This is the main activity of a second Connections Week held in Bratislava – one of the European End Street Homelessness Campaign cities – organised by Campaign partners OZ STOPA Slovensko.

The Connections Week survey will map and assess the scale and nature of homelessness in Bratislava. It is part of a collection of public campaigning activities under the banner #InvisibleVisibility – to give more attention to the challenges of people without access to adequate housing in the city. Currently, homelessness has no legal definition in Slovakia.

Pavol Sabela, Director of OZ STOPA, said:

“We are working on the streets, but yet we appear to be working in the shadows as there is no legal definition in national law for homelessness. This Connections Week is not only about helping us present an accurate account of the scale of homelessness in Bratislava. It is also about highlighting the involvement of local people, who – as volunteers – increase their understanding of and empathy towards homeless people and homelessness as a growing and urgent issue.

“This will help us in our efforts to establish that legal definition and confirm that it is our role as a society to support those who are homeless, vulnerable and excluded to achieve safe and independent lives.”

Louise Winterburn, Head of the European End Street Homelessness Campaign at World Habitat, said:

“All of the cities in the Campaign have many challenges to overcome, but the challenge in Bratislava is stark. With no legal definition of homelessness – homeless people simply ‘do not exist’ – that means there’s a severe lack of prevention and support services.

“We will be in Bratislava supporting OZ STOPA and the volunteers during this Connections Week. We hope that their important work will provide the momentum needed to change policy and to provide homeless people with the support and services they so urgently need.”

Earlier this summer, World Habitat and representatives of cities from across the European End Street Homelessness Campaign met at their Annual Gathering in Bratislava. This provided the catalyst for host organisation OZ STOPA to plan their Connections Week survey inspired by the actions of campaign partners Arrels Fundacio from Barcelona. OZ STOPA aim to replicate the successes that the local Barcelona campaign has achieved in embedding a more consistent understanding of the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in their city.

Image: AMKO Photography

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