The entities detect more people who are forced to sleep on the street, in abandoned cars or warehouses in Girona. "We must say it with all the regret in the world; it is no one's fault and, at the same time, it is everyone's fault," says the president of the Traçant Camins association, Teresa Castanys, who sees how people - especially young people - grow. - which they serve every afternoon at La Sopa. To make visible the situation in which the homeless find themselves, Girona City Council, Cáritas and Traçant Camins have launched a new campaign to raise awareness among citizens, which this year focuses on "the disconnection" suffered by the group . The council is also working to ensure that the district has a new low-demand center aimed at the homeless.
In Girona, after six years, the last count of homeless people sleeping on the street was made in May of last year. 86 were counted (which was another 26 from the last count). Most of them were men and more than half were foreigners.
Now, the Traçant Camins association estimates that this figure already exceeds one hundred. "With all the sadness in the world, we must say that the number of homeless people is increasing; and that winter is now approaching," says Castanys. The volunteers who are part of the entity see it every afternoon, when they serve part of the group in La Sopa (where they give them food, allow them to wash and charge their cell phones, among other services).
The president of the association explains that, in addition to those who sleep rough, in doorways or ATMs, there are also those who are forced to spend the night in the car or in abandoned warehouses, because they have nowhere to go. Castaños also states that the number of young foreigners who suffer without a home is growing.
"It is no one's fault, but at the same time it is also everyone's fault," says the president of Traçant Camins, referring to citizens and administrations. "It is due to a combination of circumstances, because La Sopa is overflowing and it is also true that the lack of housing has meant that people who receive aid and who previously could afford a room, now cannot do so," Castanys specifies.
To make visible the situation suffered by the homeless, the Girona City Council, Cáritas Diocesana and Traçant Camins have launched a new edition of the Homeless People Campaign. Includes a dozen activities. This Monday the first one has already been inaugurated: an exhibition of panels with photographs, distributed throughout the Pedra bridge, which aims to raise awareness among citizens about the reality that the group experiences.
The president of Cáritas de Girona, Dolors Puigdevall, explains that the axis on which the campaign pivots in 2023 is "the disconnection" with society that the homeless suffer. "The people who live on the streets are the ones who have lost everything; they get there because the prevention measures have not been effective, they remain disconnected and in these circumstances, it is difficult to get back on track," Puigdevall specifies.
"For this reason, the campaign wants, on a personal level, to have a different view towards these people," says the director of Cáritas, while also wanting to challenge the administrations to "find solutions."
The mayor of Girona, Lluc Salellas, has assured that the fight to eradicate homelessness "needs all of us" and that administrations cannot "turn their backs on the problem." "We are the network that these people need to get out of these complicated situations; therefore, we must provide all possible facilities so that they have a new opportunity to lead a life with bread, shelter and work," says the mayor.
And here, Salellas has already announced that the Girona City Council works with the Provincial Council and the Generalitat to increase resources and services for people who are forced to sleep on the street. "It is a topic that we repeatedly bring up in all the meetings we hold," he says, referring to the other two administrations. "We are working so that during 2024 there can be hopeful news to ensure that, in the coming years, the resources allocated to homeless people increase considerably in the district," she stated.
The Councilor for Equality and Social Justice, Amy Sabaly, explained that, from the first moment, the new government team works to be able to offer the homeless "all the facilities so that they can get ahead and have a decent life." She has specified that the council is working to have another municipality in the district open a low-demand center, which "also helps to decongest" La Sopa (because it currently welcomes users from all over the territory).
The campaign to make the situation of homeless people visible, this 2023, has the motto 'Share your network'.
The main day will be this Thursday the 23rd. In the morning, a conference on gender in homelessness will be given at the Faculty of Education and Psychology of the University of Girona. In the afternoon, there will be a discussion at the La Mercè Cultural Center, where different homeless people will explain the situation they experience every day. And at night, an artistic intervention will be carried out and a manifesto will be read before the Government Delegation in Girona.
In addition to the exhibition on the Pedra bridge, a banner will also be hung on the La Copa esplanade with the motto 'Don't let them be left out of coverage'. And finally, on Wednesday afternoon, a hot chocolate is planned at La Sopa.