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 cannot 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 – attempted 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 volunteer community members. 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 2021, another street survey covering a quarter of the city found more than 500 homeless individuals – suggesting that the number of homeless people is growing.
In 2019 Bratislava hosted the Annual Gathering of cities bringing together representatives from across the European End Street Homelessness Campaign. STOPA and OZ PRIMA were able to showcase their work supporting 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 greater recognition, both in public awareness and in law, of the situation faced by people experiencing street homelessness.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, STOPA and partner organisations delivered vital resources to those left out on the streets by inadequate response from local government. This included masks, food, medical equipment and targeted people in hard-to-reach areas across the city. STOPA were recognised by the Slovakian Public Defender of Rights for their outstanding contribution in support of vulnerable people. Find out about the full emergency response from Bratislava and other campaign cities in our report: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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 and a new rapid re-housing ‘crossroad’ project for three individuals.