Groundswell are currently working with partner organisations from Ireland, Italy and Hungary, on an Erasmus+ funded project which focuses on sharing learning on how best to support older people experiencing homelessness. The project involves a series of learning events where partners come together in each country to share their approaches. So far, Groundswell staff and volunteers have had the opportunity to visit Italy and Hungary to attend learning events. In this report Miles reflects on his experience of visiting partners in Budapest to learn from their work.
Firstly, I’d like to express my gratitude for being invited to attend this learning opportunity, via the Erasmus scheme of reviewing homelessness across various countries.
We attended as the UK side, joined by colleague’s from Caritas Triest in Italy, Focus Ireland in Ireland, and our host’s from BMSZKI and From Street to Homes in Hungary.
Across our time, we visited several locations across Budapest to learn and experience the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness, complex health matters, disabilities and concerning levels of poverty.
This was so humbling, at points my emotions got the better of me, I couldn’t get my head around how people’s challenging circumstances created more difficulties and impacted their health, particularly around disability.
We each gave presentations on how our services operate to highlight how much help and support, or not, we offer. This was a really valuable way to cross share and understand the challenges each country has to offer, and we had really constructive debates, using compassion kindness and sometimes dark humour, where appropriate, all with sensitivity.
We were able to share what levels of support around housing, health access, financial access to support were available in each country, I found this eye opening but critical to my learning and understanding of what needs to be thought about to create better outcomes for people.
We also engaged in one particular exercise, which was created by our hosts, a fascinating kind of game of snakes and ladders, in mixed teams, where we had to make monthly accommodation, health and money choices, deciding which were priorities and the impact of those choices on the individual across the calendar year.
Also thrown into the mix, some random wild cards, which completely reshaped the outcomes for the individual, much like life itself does daily.
The outcomes of our choices were impressionable and revealing.
I particularly enjoyed this exercise, and I would definitely recommend repeating this in any future conferences, as a brilliant conversation leveller.
I have to say, leaving Budapest, I had such respect for their staff, brilliant work with such limited resources and the way they deliver their support is second to none.
Respect also to our colleagues from Italy and Ireland for their brilliant Insights and helping the visit so rich in information
An experience I will never forget, but as I write this, still sits with me as a driver to ensure change actually happens, wherever that is.