World Homeless Action Day is a worldwide collaborative effort that is marked on the 10th day of October every year. Casa Ioana is marking World Homeless Day by organising a Sleep Out in Bucharest to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and highlighting Casa Ioana’s work with women and children experiencing domestic abuse and family homelessness as a local solution to the phenomena.
When: Between 22.00 hours Friday 13 October and 06.00 hours Saturday 14 October
Where: Share Café, Strada Olari 8, Bucharest 024057
World Homeless Day was born out of discussions between people helping others experiencing homelessness in their own countries. The aim and slogan of the Day is ‘locals act locally on a global day’. The emphasis is on giving support that is sensitive to local needs, while being aware of the global problem of homelessness.
Homelessness is a temporary condition that people fall into when they cannot afford to pay for a place to live, or when their current home is unsafe or unstable. Other factors, such as job loss, physical and mental disability, various hardships—including personal, and drug addiction can accelerate people’s slide into poverty, and for some, eventually homelessness, especially in the absence of proper social services. The lack of housing, access to healthcare, and supportive services, then act as others barriers that keep individuals from moving out of homelessness.
There is no single reason why people become homeless. While there are common factors that account for people being forced to live on the street – financial problems, unemployment or family breakdown being most apparent; the reasons behind an individual becoming homeless are often multiple, complex and more often than not, beyond the control of the individual concerned. Therefore, if a person did not have the resources to prevent them from becoming homeless, then it is unlikely that they will have the resources to escape their lives on the street without professional help.
Official figures show that across the European Union there are 125 million people are either experiencing poverty or at risk of becoming impoverished. This figure represents almost a quarter of the population of the EU Member States. Experts say that in some EU countries the crisis is totally out of control. Once someone falls into the poverty trap, it is very difficult to get out. The confidence of those experiencing poverty is eroded, mental health often deteriorates and getting a job with an adequate income becomes a major challenge. Romanian society today is strongly divided, not only in terms of the urban/rural divide to which many have referred, but even more importantly, the divide between the more than 40% of people who continue to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and the rest whose well-being is the overwhelming priority of so many official policies. According to Eurostat, Romania also registered the highest rate of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion. With 51 percent of children aged 18 years and below who lack proper access to education, healthcare, housing or food. According to the Casa Ioana Association’s president, Ian Tilling, people experiencing homelessness are particularly affected, finding themselves at the margins of society and facing seemingly insurmountable barriers in trying to change their situations for the better.
Between 22.00 hours on Friday 13th October and 06.00 hours on Saturday 14th October 2017, Paul Brummell, the British Ambassador to Romania, together with Nigel Bellingham, Country Director of the British Council Romania and Charles Crocker, Chief Executive Officer of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce will be sleeping out so that others don’t have to. Other people representing Bucharest-based companies, including Oracle will also be participating along with staff and pupils from the British School of Bucharest, Staff from Acorns British Style Nursery, the British Embassy and British Council and students and staff from the Faculty for Sociology and Social Work. Ian Tilling, president of Casa Ioana will also be sleeping out along with other who will be representing the local community.
Share Café is hosting the event in their large open-air courtyard. Participant will have to bring their own bedding and will be offered hot soup and beverages during the night.
Romania is at, or near, the bottom scale on almost all EU measures of poverty and social exclusion with the new composite Social Justice Index, scoring EU countries based on poverty prevention, equitable education, labour market access, and other factors ranks Romania 27th. Only Greece, in its state of despair, ranks lower.
Despite the general estimate of approximately 5,000 homeless people living on the streets of Bucharest, it is impossible to assess accurately the number of people sleeping rough in the capital city. Many others live in overcrowded or inadequate housing conditions whilst others stay temporarily with friends. Relationship breakdown, lack of job security and low wages, coupled with a severe lack of affordable housing are significant causes of homelessness. Increasingly, families are losing their homes and being forced to live on the streets, particularly those experiencing domestic violence and who have no one to turn to for help.
Once living on the street, many homeless people find it difficult to earn enough to find a decent place to live. Despite between one third and one half of homeless people being in employment, most are employed in the black economy and in jobs which do not provide job security or pay enough for basic living expenses. Others are underemployed, meaning that they cannot work enough hours to pay their bills. A lot of homeless people have two or three jobs at a time, but a small number of small income jobs do not help very much either. Without legitimate jobs, they find themselves outside of the social assistance and health systems.
Ian Tilling says that decent employment and affordable child care are vital ingredients for escaping life on the street. “We work with mothers who have often been forced to depend on an abusive partner for accommodation and financial security, not only for themselves but for their children. They face huge challenges in getting and maintaining a decently paid job and affordable child care whilst at work. In such a competitive environment, the difficulties they face are almost insurmountable barriers to employment.”
The event aims to raise awareness of some of the issues facing homeless people in relation to overcoming the situation they have found themselves. Andreea Gheorghe, manager of Casa Ioana’s family refuges in Bucharest said, “Unfortunately, the economic benefits have not been felt by nearly half of Romanians and this has left some, marginalised and extremely vulnerable. We know that sleeping out for one night does not reflect the reality of being homeless, nor do we seek to promote it as such, but it is effective in raising awareness.”
Contact: Andreea Gheorghe – General Manager
Telephone: +40 21 3326 390
Mobile: +40 760 249389
The Casa Ioana Association (Casa Ioana) was established in 1995 and supports families and single women experiencing domestic violence and family homelessness. Casa Ioana opens the door to safe temporary housing and a wide range of professional psychosocial support services. Besides managing two residential centres in Bucharest, Casa Ioana provides comprehensive support that helps its beneficiaries’ transition into independent stable accommodation, work and the community around them, whilst equipping them with the skills to manage future crises. Central to this process is the belief that beneficiaries should be empowered to make their own choices whilst supporting their independence.
Domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many families and single women. Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated from support networks and financial resources by their abusers, which puts them at risk of becoming homeless. As a result, they may lack steady income and a history of employment and often suffer from anxiety, panic disorder, major depression and substance abuse. When women find themselves in an abusive relationship, they may not always have clear-cut choices.
Studies also suggest that many women experiencing homelessness are survivors of domestic violence, even if it was not the primary cause of their homelessness. Experts agree that there is a strong correlation between domestic violence and homelessness. Women often flee suddenly without a plan and find themselves in physical and economic trouble and without housing stability. When a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship, she often has nowhere to go. This is particularly true of women with few resources. Lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for assisted housing mean that many women and their children are forced to choose between abuse at home and life on the streets. Many women are cut off from their friends or family or are afraid to seek shelter with them because the abusive partner can track them down more easily.
Share Café is a social enterprise that employs people from various vulnerable groups and acts as a platform for social projects and initiatives. We reinvest our profit into securing the jobs of our employees, as well as sharing our facilities with various community-based projects aimed at creating positive change.
Their services vary from regular restaurant service and professional event catering to hosting training seminars and social workshops, as well as educational and art performances.