Because of the actions of lead campaign partner STOPA and others, one week after the outbreak of COVID-19 almost all street homeless people across Bratislava had protective masks, were informed about the pandemic, and knew how to best protect themselves and the community. Find out about the full emergency response from Bratislava and other campaign cities in our latest report: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Joined the campaign: December 2017
Who’s involved? STOPA Slovensko – an organisation focused on street outreach and helping people on the streets to learn new skills – is leading the campaign in Bratislava. Their work is supported by OZ PRIMA, who deliver substance misuse and alcohol support to people across Bratislava.
What has happened so far? Homelessness is not legally defined in Slovakia meaning that homeless people are not recognised as in need of support. There is a significant strain on housing for all groups in Bratislava. Traditionally, Slovakians have tended to purchase their own home rather than rent, meaning there is a shortage of rental properties for those who can’t afford to buy. The response to homelessness is significantly under-resourced and there is no tradition of solutions such as social housing. The majority of people who are homeless are men between the ages of 35 and 45 years.
In June 2018, STOPA Slovensko and a team of collaborating NGOs and volunteers began an attempt to improve the accuracy of the original census count for the city by using the Connections Week surveys. The surveys were repeated in October 2019, involving more community members as volunteers. One hundred and sixty-nine people were found sleeping on the streets of Bratislava’s Old Town, a 32% increase on the year before. Find out more here. The local campaign also held a public-facing day of action – ‘We Are Not Invisible’ – in November 2018, inspired by the power and success of similar actions by partners in fellow campaign city Barcelona.
In 2019 Bratislava hosted the Annual Gathering of cities, bringing representatives from all campaign cities together. STOPA and OZ PRIMA were able to showcase their work with street homeless people and those with complex issues around substance misuse. World Habitat also held a press conference with the Vice Mayor of the Old Town of Bratislava, to push for a greater recognition, both in public awareness and in law, of the situation faced by people experiencing street homelessness.
What’s next? STOPA is continuing to develop its housing and support programme – two people have moved into their own homes. This is a new concept in the city – generally people’s only options are to live on the street or in oversubscribed shelters. They also hope to develop a ‘Peer Support Worker’ programme, in which former clients can use their experience to support others who are living on the streets.