DPS’s clients identified difficulties securing housing, employment, and healthcare, as the major systematic barriers preventing them from societal integration. Through Community Organising and capacity building within civil society, the project creates opportunities for the homeless to advocate for change in these areas, in spite of such barriers. The primary beneficiaries are the homeless community, but DPS, civil society, and government bodies will also benefit by virtue of capacity building.
Bratislava is Slovakia’s economic and cultural centre, providing many groups in society with diverse opportunities to integrate. However, for the homeless community, systematic barriers prevent them from securing housing, employment, and healthcare, thus inhibiting their access to such opportunities to integrate. The project therefore seeks to facilitate advocacy and lobbying opportunities for the homeless community to support them in changing their situation, in spite of such barriers. Furthermore, despite the advancement of civil society in Slovakia, as it stands there is little to facilitate knowledge sharing among the third sector. DPS therefore wish to implement a strategy for capacity building in the sector, to improve its ability to support the homeless in their advocacy journey.
DPS’s clients, who face many barriers to democratic participation, will be given a platform to lobby government bodies. By advocating to society’s formal decision makers, the homeless community will have the chance to become the decision makers instead. Potential leaders within the homeless community will be identified and supported in becoming agents of change, and representatives of their community to the state, the media, and the public. By facilitating capacity building in the sector, the ability of homeless organisations to support their client’s advocacy will increase. Previous work secured DPS a seat at the table as a team member now sits on the local municipalities’ Committee of Social Services, demonstrating the potential of this project: to firmly put homelessness on the agenda.
The project is primarily for the often excluded homeless community, who will be invited to advocate for change on issues that prevent them from societal integration. Rural Slovakia, the home of 60% of DPS’s clients, will benefit as client’s often return home once their situation has stabilised, and will now bestow new advocacy capabilities. Government bodies, who can seldom engage with the homeless community, will better understand the structural barriers they face, and benefit from making legislation that improves integration for them and wider society. Civil society will benefit from the chance to refine their services, guided by their beneficiaries. DPS, having developed community organisers, will benefit from multiplying their impact for the lives of their client’s and the community.
Host community organising meetings to discuss housing, healthcare, and employment, identify new issues, share information, and work towards solutions
Organise for DPS’s clients to participate in government committees
Arrange for the homeless community to be included in the creation of a Community Plan, a City of Bratislava initiative
Gather information on what complicates homeless people’s situation by analysing legislation and conducting a field study
Forge new relationships in the sector to build capacity and arrange visits for the DPS team to develop their understanding of the workings of these organisations
Host a community organising expert to develop knowledge and an intern to implement these learnings
Employ new community organising expertise within DPS to improve services
The long-term outcome will be an improvement in housing, employment, and healthcare for those affected by homelessness, plus any newly identified issues. The homeless community will have been included in community planning initiatives and will have participated in government committees and working groups. Community organising within DPS will have led to an improvement in their services, particularly their Integration Programme, which supports clients in transitioning out of homelessness. Engagement with an expert will have facilitated capacity building in DPS and across the sector regarding effective community organisation. Across national and international networks, knowledge sharing, cooperation, and partnership opportunities will have increased, aiding the continual improvement of DPS.
DPS is part of the wider Depaul Group which also has subsidiaries in the UK, Ireland, Croatia, Ukraine, France and the USA. Throughout the organisation there is a culture of learning that encourages subsidiaries to share their experiences to ensure the Group is consistently improving its services. Therefore, by DPS building upon its capacity, the Group will transfer these learnings, encouraging greater collaboration, to the benefit of marginalised groups across the subsidiaries. The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH), a Depaul International and DePaul University initiative, was the first organisation to tackle homelessness as a global phenomenon. In both theory and practice the Depaul Group is committed to seeing the bigger picture and engaging with homelessness beyond borders.
DPS is a values-based organisation whose origins lie in the tradition of St Vincent de Paul. Vincent declared the “poor are our masters”, a statement deeply connected to the mission of this project. There are 3 key ways in which DPS’s roots have inspired the idea. Firstly, DPS celebrates the potential in people; it is committed to empowering those affected by homelessness to become the decision makers in their own lives. Next, they put their words into action and are committed to finding innovative ways to tackle the problems faced by homeless people. Thirdly, DPS strives to take a wider role in civil society and to work in partnership with government and local authorities to influence structural change. Entwined in every stage of the project are the values DPS was founded upon.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Staff salaries: 46,828.00 EUR
Hosting of community organising expert and intern to facilitate training and knowledge exchange: 4,800.00 EUR
Mentoring of community organisers: 3,600.00
Trip for DPS service users and staff to inspire community action: 2,000.00 EUR
Research study in partnership with the Institute of Labour and Family Research in the 3 key areas of housing, employment, and healthcare: 5,300.00 EUR
Management costs and other expenses: 720.00 EUR