The Outreach project was established by Kompasset and FEAD in 2016 in response to the increased number of rough-sleeping migrants in Copenhagen, particularly those coming from Eastern Europe. First and foremost, it aims to build relationships with marginalised homeless migrants and help connect them with services that can help them in their daily life: places to sleep inside, health clinics, counselling and legal assistance. Additionally, it is aimed at creating a welcoming and friendly environment for those arriving in the city, no matter their background. At this stage the project is concentrated on the Vesterbro/Indre By area of Copenhagen and operates in partnership with Maria Tjenesten on Istedgade.
Why outreach street work?
Over the past number of years an increasing number of migrants from Central/Eastern Europe, namely Romania and Hungary, were making themselves visible in the Vesterbro. The need for the current project is based on this increase and the changes to particular services in Vesterbro area that provided resting space, food and informal advice to members of the homeless community regardless of nationality or immigration status. As such, the intention of the outreach project to supplement these changes and provide a physical presence for homeless migrants to reach out to.
The target group is varied; including homeless groups from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, different Roma minorities across Romania and Hungary, and a Hungarian-speaking Romanian minority. Suffering poverty at home, many arrive in Denmark with the intention of supporting family at home. Education and formal training levels are low and many fall into seasonal work such as collecting bottles. The groups are primarily made up of men, though there has been an increase in couples, individual women and minors.
The primary approach has been to physically meet people in their environment around the city centre and Vesterbro. Maria Church on Istedgade in Vesterbro has been used as a base point from which to meet the target group. Additional efforts have been made to build relationships with local homelessness, health and law enforcement services. Furthermore, the Outreach project has utilised specialist language skills build strong communication pathways with the target group.
Outreach team’s efforts have resulted in the creation of a more welcoming environment, the building of close relationships with over 50 migrants, contributing to improving the knowledge and use of existing social services for homeless migrants, a strengthening of relationships with these services, a decrease in communication issues through targeted use of language and a deeper understanding of the migrant experience; their hopes, dreams and desires.