Homeless but not invisible thanks to GPS braceletsby Simona Cortopassi - 2014.09.29
Twenty homeless people in Denmark will wear GPS bracelets for a week, in exchange for food vouchers. The experiment doesn't just aim to identify exactly where these 'invisible' members of society sleep, so they can be provided with blankets, food and medicine – but its goal is also to get to know them. It goes beyond the stereotype of the tramp with alcoholism or psychiatric problems and takes into account that these people are in need but are often able to reintegrate, if only they could find a job.
The truth is that, today more than ever, living on the street is certainly no choice but is more something that people are forced into. The main cause is losing one's job and the breakdown of the family unit. These two events are closely linked because it's known that stress relating to losing one's employment can cause a deterioration in relationships. It's a vicious cycle that unfortunately seems to be increasing, as confirmed by the data from Denmark, where there are now nearly 6,000 homeless people. There is also an alarming increase in the number of 18-24 year olds on the streets.
But one certainly cannot say that Denmark is indifferent to this. In fact, between 2009 and 2013, the Minister of Social Affairs allocated about 500 million krone for prevention and awareness policies. The objective was to shine the spotlight on extreme poverty and, in particular, social exclusion. Dormitories were set up and a football team of homeless people was put together, with its own world championship. There is also an allocated plot in the capital's cemetery, dedicated to those who can't afford a proper burial.
Copenhagen's projects are in sharp contrast to those adopted by other European countries. Particularly in the UK, where the boom of homelessness in London was addressed by putting nails around the entrances of some of the city's luxury apartments. In order to reconcile the differences across EU states, it may be necessary to establish a package of emergency measures common across Europe.
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