Veterans Aid FEANTSA membership adds new dimension to EU homelessness community
Among them was Veterans Aid, recently confirmed as the only full member dedicated to the interests of homeless ex-servicemen and women. The 82-year old charity has been supporting veterans in crisis since 1932. Last year it took 3,400 calls for help and provided 21,300 nights of accommodation.
FEANTSA (The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless) is an umbrella of not-for-profit organisations which participate in, or contribute to, the fight against homelessness in Europe.
Freek Spinnewijn, FEANTSA Director, said, “We were delighted to welcome VA as a full member.”
Dr Hugh Milroy, CEO of Veterans Aid, added, “Our area of operations is already international but membership of this important community represents significant recognition for the charity and I am delighted that VA has been formally acknowledged at a European level.”
The conference, ‘Confronting homelessness in the EU: Seeking out the next generation of best practices’ brought together academics, representatives of NGOs and private companies from 25 European countries as well as North and South America.
The main emphasis was on preventive action, through identifying people and groups at risk of homelessness, such as women and young people, and tailoring support measures that include education, vocational training and re-training.
Outgoing European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, who contributed to the discussion via video message, stressed that given the social impact of the crisis on unemployment and poverty levels and the commitment to fighting poverty in the Europe 2020 strategy, the unacceptable situation of people experiencing homelessness must not be forgotten.
“We need to join efforts in building a truly inclusive Europe, making sure no one is left out”, he said. He expressed his certainty that the new European Commission will be “Right behind” those working to fight homelessness.”
President of FEANTSA Mike Allen said, “Coming together here as European citizens means we can share our knowledge and bring innovation and change for social justice and social Europe.”
Lieve Fransen, Director of Europe 2020 (part of the European Commission) added, “We cannot accept homelessness; to eradicate all forms of it we have to implement strategies that would include rapid, short-term solutions and well as medium and long-term coherent policies.”
Volker Busch-Geertsema, a researcher from European Observatory on Homelessness, said, “Ending homelessness is a realistic goal, however we cannot stick to old systems and solutions as we cannot end homelessness by giving away blankets.”
FEANTSA is the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (Fédération Européenne des Associations Nationales Travaillant avec les Sans-Abri).