Living on the street damages health and shortens life expectancy. On average, someone that has lived on the street in Barcelona lives 20 less years than any other neighbour of the city.
There are a lot of reasons: the cold in winter, the heat in summer, the stress of having to get by every day, the fear, the insecurity and the violence, the poor diet, the addictions in some cases and the lack of access to health.
Most of the people we accompany have a frail health due to some physical or mental illness; others are very elderly. When someone that we know starts living in a residence, for reasons of age of health, we keep accompany them. A team of volunteers visit them on a regular basis, and makes sure they are fine, accompanying them in this new stage of their life.
How do we want to be treated when we spend the last days in a hospital? How do we want to be our last farewell? Do we want to meet again with the family? They are important conversations to make sure we respect people’s will.
In 2017, we accompanied Antonio to record his favourite songs in a professional way. It was one of his wishes before dying and we made it true.
From Arrels, we look after so each homeless person that we know can be accompanied until their last moment alive, and also throughout death.
One of the keys of this accompaniment is listening to the person and respect their decisions. Between 2007 and 2018 we have said goodbye to 269 people with the average age of 62 years old, which is 20 years less than the average Barcelona citizen.
At Arrels, we don’t want anyone to say goodbye in solitude. That’s why we accompany people we know and live or have lived on the street, until their last moment of life. When someone dies, we take the responsibility of contacting with the family, we coordinate with the burial services to prepare the farewell, and we inform all members of the entity about the date and time of the burial. Our goal is that everyone can be buried with dignity and in company.
For many years, at Arrels, we have been organising an intimate meeting to remember homeless people linked to the entity and that have left us over the last twelve months.
In 2016, for the first time, we decided to make public this reality moving this act into the streets, to give visibility to all those deaths in collaboration with other entities of Barcelona.
Most of the people we accompany at Arrels have worked but they didn’t quote. That’s why they can have access to certain benefits such as retirement pensions. In most of the cases, subsidies are not enough to have an autonomous life. Arrels works with other entities sensitizing and impinging on public administrations, claiming worthy benefits that allow and independent life.