Home4Health meeting in Lisbon brings together european experts and professionals on Homelessness and Health

From May 27th to May 29th, the Home4Health project organized a European Knowledge and Experience Sharing Meeting in Lisbon. It served as a pivotal platform for professionals and organizations dedicated to addressing the challenges of people who experiences homelessness and who face complex health issues and trauma.  

Hosted by Crescer, the event brought together professionals and representatives from the four partner organizations of the project (ABD, Cork Simon Community, HVO-Querido, and CRESCER) as well as various partner organizations and public administrations, including Fundació Hàbitat3, Norte Vida, Municipality of Amsterdam, Public Health Agency Catalonia, Barcelona Public Health Agency, Diputació de Barcelona, and Câmara Municipal de Lisboa.

The delegation sent by ABD to the meeting in Lisbon was composed of: Mònica Plana, Director of the Technical Department and the Inclusion and Poverty Area at ABD; Ester Aranda, Director of Harm Reduction at ABD and social researcher; Natalia Martinez, Head of Strategic Alliances and Communication at Fundació Hàbitat3; Elena Adán Ibáñez, Psychologist in harm reduction services and public officer at the Public Health Agency of Generalitat de Catalunya; Ferran Roca, Technician specialized in social policies focused on residential exclusion and homelessness situations at Diputació de Barcelona; Mariona Ferrer-Fons, Technician in the Department of Prevention and Attention to Drug Dependency at the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB).

Debate and networking sessions

The event started on May 27th, with a welcoming dinner at É UM RESTAURANTE, a social enterprise managed by Crescer, which actively promotes the employability of individuals experiencing homelessness through on-the-job training and continuous social support.

The second day, the 28th, began with institutional welcoming remarks, outlining the conference’s objectives, notably the establishment of a European Support Network among different platforms, entities and organisations to disseminate and scale-up across Europe the project results.

The opening conference was held by Henrique Joaquim, from the Government body ENIPSSA – Portuguese National Strategy for the Integration of people in homelessness situation; by Joaquim Fonseca, from the Institute of addictive behaviour and dependency of the Ministry of Health in Portugal; by Paulo Santos, from Lisbon Municipality and leading the approval of the 3rd Municipal strategy for inclusion of homeless persons; and by Cristiana Pires, a researcher at Kosmicare.

The morning also featured a dynamic speed networking activity, facilitating meaningful connections among participants from different countries, and a comprehensive training session on harm reduction principles in homelessness and drug use, led by ABD and HVO Querido.

In the afternoon, a thought-provoking roundtable of experiences showcased successful strategies from Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and the Netherlands, aimed at transitioning individuals from homelessness to employment and housing. This was an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and the strategies adopted at several different levels, which provided insights on how to improve the provision of services for people in situations of homelessness. Related to this, participants engaged in sharing case studies, one case per country, which made it possible to identify concrete examples of interventions aimed at reducing the effects of homelessness and allowed a more grounded approach to the matter. 

The group highlighted the successful case of a homeless non-binary person who, after his stay and support from a shelter with a harm reduction focus, could find a job and a new stable accommodation. The importance of maintaining psychosocial support beyond its connection with the service, respecting the person’s goals and applying the pragmatism of harm reduction were excellent practices. 

Also in the afternoon, Crescer presented the results of the Focus Groups that were developed during the months of March and April in these four countries, with professionals and people in situations of homelessness. These results are crucial for the development of the training program of Home4Health as they set the basis for identifying needs and gaps and providing comprehensive training to address them. All partners agreed that it is essential that clients, professionals and peers participate in this type of exploratory approach.

The third and last day was marked by roundtable discussions on “Homelessness Intersections” and concluded with a group conversation on the next steps of the Home4Health European Network. The event emphasized the collective efforts needed to build and strengthen the network’s common strategy. 

About Home4Health

Home4Health is a project that seeks to collaborate with civil society organizations, institutions, and public authorities in addressing, from a socially inclusive perspective, the challenges encountered in caring for homeless people facing complex health issues and traumas, such as addiction.

The Home4Health project, funded by the Erasmus+ program, will be implemented between January 2024 and June 2026, in collaboration with the following organizations: Asociación Bienestar y Desarrollo ABD (Spain) as the project coordinator, CRESCER (Portugal), HVO-Querido (Netherlands), Cork Simon Community (Ireland).

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