Problems facing the rehabilitation of homeless people
How can help for homeless people be made more sustainable and effective?
On 8 February, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation hosted a round table on the topic of “Social and socio-labour rehabilitation for those without a fixed place of residence: the experience of CSOs and the problems of legal regulation”. The discussion was organised by the Civic Chamber Commission for the Development of the Non-Profit Sector and the Civic Chamber Commission on Social Policy, Labour Relations and Support for Veterans. The meeting was initiated by the homelessness organisation Noah’s House of Diligence.
The public organisation Dr Liza’s Fair Care runs a Green Light centre to help those in difficult situations.
The centre provides homeless people with a space to wash themselves and their clothes, as well as offering medical and legal assistance.
The Green Light centre has also partnered with the employment organisation My Career to provide career advice free of charge. Alongside this, the centre provides a number of computers to allow people to search for vacancies of their own accord.
The project is currently being funded by a grant from Moscow’s Department of Labour and Social Protection; however, this grant comes to an end on 14 December 2022. The centre also received a grant last year.
Under these conditions, the Green Light centre cannot plan ahead for the future, as they are unsure whether they will receive another grant, says president of the Dr Liza Fair Care organisation Olga Demicheva.
“The work of the Green Light centre remains a necessity,” states Demicheva, “and to continue this work, CSOs like ours need regular support.”
Lana Zhurkina, the founder and director of the centre House of Friends, also commented on the situation. She notes that while social rehabilitation begins with small steps – such as establishing a daily routine, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and planning each day at a time – it is nevertheless a long and expensive process. Without state support CSOs simply cannot cope.
Creating a Multifunctional Service Centre
There are two approaches to helping homeless people, says Oksana Shalygina, deputy head of the Department of Labour and Social Protection. One approach deals with the immediate needs of a homeless person, while the other offers a path back into society.
According to Shalygina, the best approach is a combination of the two. She asserts that the method of offering assistance should be standardised across homelessness organisations.
The set of services provided needs to be comprehensive, says Shalygina. Currently, organisations delegate care, with separate centres for medical assistance, food, and hygiene. Instead, all centres should provide these services in a standard basic package.
“Establishing a multifunctional service centre is vital,” says Shalygina, “and allows a person to immediately understand how to access the services available.”
However, Shalygina notes that assistance needs to be adequate but not excessive. Rather, the services should provide a person with the necessary skills and knowledge to rehabilitate themselves without forming a dependency on the organisation.
The Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation will collate all the proposals put forward at the round table into a single document.