12 April 2010
St Mungo's welcomed the launch this week of 'Ending Homelessness', a new European campaign that sets out goals for ending homelessness as part of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
The campaign is being launched on Wednesday 14 April at the European Parliament in Brussels by FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless.
As part of the campaign, FEANTSA is also launching the publication 'Ending Homelessness: A Handbook for Policy Makers'. This draws together concrete examples of effective approaches to ending homelessness that have already been developed.
St Mungo's is the only English individual charity in the Handbook. The charity is highlighted for its work promoting client involvement through its representative group, Outside In, and initiatives such as peer research. Scottish charity Furniture Plus is also featured, alongside the work of the UK's umbrella organization Homeless Link.
Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo's, said: "We welcome this European drive to tackle homelessness and the push for integrated strategies. If homeless people are to rebuild their lives and move out of poverty towards brighter futures, they need the support of connected services that work across national government departments, and which foster a pan-European solidarity.
"We are very pleased that our client involvement work has been recognized in the Handbook, which is a valuable addition to best practice learning for homelessness agencies. Client involvement has significantly helped us develop our employment pathways, our health strategy and our hostel and housing services over the past 40 years. Sharing such expertise can only help in our common goal of ending homelessness."
The Ending Homelessness campaign sets out five concrete goals to end homelessness, arguing that if these goals become part of integrated strategies to combat homelessness, it can be ended. The goals are:
In the framework of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, the message of the campaign is that ending homelessness in Europe is both necessary and possible. Managing the problem of homelessness is not enough. It is time to stop investing in reactive, short-term measures and to implement integrated strategies to end homelessness.
St Mungo's - contact Judith Higgin, media manager, St Mungo's, on +44 (0) 20 8762 5645, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEANTSA - contact Suzannah Young, communications officer, email: Suzannah.email@example.com
On Wednesday 14 April the launch is being marked with an event at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event will involve a hearing and opportunities for debate on the role of the EU in ending homelessness, followed by the opening of a sculpture exhibition on homelessness by the Danish artist Jens Galschiøt. Speakers include László Andor, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; Liz Lynne MEP; Britta Thomsen MEP; Karima Delli MEP; Ilda Figueiredo MEP; Jacek Protasiewicz MEP; Philippe Courard, Belgian Secretary of State for Social Integration and the Fight against Poverty; Eric Marlier, International Senior Advisor CEPS/INSTEAD and René Kneip, FEANTSA President.
Tackling homelessness is a priority in the EU strategy for social inclusion and social protection, and the launch of FEANTSA's the campaign comes at a key moment. The 2010 Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion actually calls on Member States to develop integrated strategies to tackle homelessness. At the end of 2009, the EU Network of independent experts on social inclusion produced a report on homelessness and housing exclusion in the EU Member States, providing concrete recommendations on the way forward. The European Parliament has also taken a number of important initiatives on homelessness, including a Written Declaration on Ending Street Homelessness adopted in 2008. The Declaration calls on the Council to agree on an EU-wide commitment to end street homelessness by 2015, calls on the Commission to provide annual updates on action taken and progress made in EU Member States towards ending homelessness and urges Member States to devise "winter emergency plans" as part of wider homelessness strategies.