Tonight, we hit the streets of Barcelona to talk with the people who sleep rough and learn their level of vulnerability. The provisional data tells us that 339 people wanted to share their story with us, and a total of 1,195 people were found sleeping on the street. Beyond these figures, there are numerous situations, heartbreaks and dreams that shout #nobodysleepingonthestreet.
In the entrance of a shop with the shutter lowered, Abdel spends the night sheltered behind a cardboard box that acts as a Wall and protects him from stares. In front of him he’s left his cart, beside a tree, with some scrap parts he collected during the day. It is 1 a.m. and Joan, Alba and Carla, volunteers for the census of homeless people, wake him up to ask him some questions and learn about his situation.
“I have slept on the street for two months. I worked for 20 years but now I can’t find a job, it has cost me a lot. I spend the day looking for scrap parts and I can’t save the money that I earn,” he explains to the three volunteers. The questions follow: Have you lived on the street before? Do you have a source of income? Have you been sick lately or do you have a chronic illness? “I was recently picked up by an ambulance and it’s hard for me to meet basic needs; I’m lucky because I take a shower one day a week at a place in the neighborhood.”
Abdel is one of the 339 people who sleep on the street in Barcelona and who tonight wanted to explain their reality in the census of homeless people. The goal is to collect information about their situation and learn what level of vulnerability they experience.
From 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., 549 volunteers went all over 61 neighborhoods in Barcelona looking in ATMs, parks, doorways and cars to see if anyone was sleeping there. One man who had spent many years living on the street explained to us that he had never been to the doctor, three boys said that they requested asylum and that they no longer trust the consulates or the administration, a young woman explained that she had many health problems, another man said he had spent the last 20 years living on the street or in prison…
1,195 people found sleeping on the street
339 homeless people responded to the survey but, in total, the volunteers who went out into the streets of Barcelona located 1,195 people sleeping rough, among them several minors. This figure exceeds the 956 people who were counted last year during the count of homeless people, a 25% increase.
Last night’s census also showed us that in áreas like Sant Andreu, there are more people sleeping on the street and also has left us with a question: what happened to the people who we know sleep in the city’s downtown neighborhoods but who we didn’t find tonight?
The census of homeless people was made posible thanks to a total of 549 volunteers. Many had participated in past censuses, and for others, it was the first time. “After hours of walking through my neighborhood, I have the feeling that I’ev seen a world that is larger and deeper than I could have imagined,” says Josetxo, who walked the streets of Sant Andreu. For another volunteer who participated in the Gràcia neighborhood, the experience allowed them to “give a voice to the people who are in a situation of homelessness and who often go unnoticed.”
Precisely, making visible the reality of homelessness has been the reason that has led people who have also slept on the street to participate in the census as volunteers. “Society must open its eyes,” Theo said during the pre-census training. And Davide, who lived in the street for 8 years and recently found a place to live, added: “I still feel that I do not have a home, but now that I no longer live on the street, I can contribute from my point of view and tell the people who sleep on the street that they can get out of this situation.”