#StopThisPhoto, an Instagram campaign to defend the rights of those living on the street

Acció Stop This Photo a la platja

Are you tired of always seeing the same summer photos? So are we. That’s why we keep repeating that 1,200 people live on the street in Barcelona and that these images should change. We started a campaign on Instagram that lays out the rights of the homeless that are being violated.

In Barcelona, about 1,200 people live on the street, and seeing someone sleeping on a piece of cardboard or outside a bank, showering at the beach or washing their clothes in a public fountain is something so common that it often goes unnoticed.

Having to live in the street, however, is not normal; neither in the summer nor during the rest of the year. At Arrels, we want to take advantage of social media during the summer, especially Instagram, which is full of images of vacations, the beach, family time and the rest or trips we take to make visible the reality of the homeless.

Feet in a bank entrance, a person with their bags in front of the train station, someone on the beach with a piece of cardboard to sleep on but that, at first glance, looks like a surfboard, a drink on a terrace… Two people who live on the street wanted to be photographed simulating the most common images on Instagram, but showing the day-to-day life of the homeless.

All of these photos are meant to explain that in summer, people who live on the street still exist and a number of their rights are violated. We focus on ten of them:

  • The right to privacy, because living on the street means that a person is exposed and in the open.
  • The right to rest, because when you live on the street, you are on alert and sleep with one eye open with the lights and noise of the city.
  • The right to mobility, because most people who live on the street cannot use public transportation and have to walk from one resource to another, in both cold and hot weather. When you live on the street, you move out of necessity, not for tourism.
  • The right to the city and to enjoy the spaces and social and cultural resources that there are, because the almost 1,200 people who live on the street in Barcelona are also members of the community.
  • The right to public space, because a Barcelona city ordinance prohibits sleeping on the street and sanctions practices like making noise, washing in a fountain, urinating, etc. When you do not have a home and there are not enough public resources, it becomes difficult to accomplish all this.
  • The right to hygiene, as there are not enough resources for laundry and hygienic services to change clothes and shower, and some close in summer. In Barcelona, if you wash yourself in a fountain or shower at the beach or wash your clothes and use soap, they can sanction you.
  • The right to health, because living in the street harms health and can cut 20 years off your life. Living in the street means, for example, having to walk everywhere, going to the doctor less and, during the summer, being exposed to sunburns.
  • The right to physical integrity, because when you live on the street, you are not protected and are more likely to be assaulted. According to the census of people sleeping on the street in Barcelona, 38% of people on the street said they have been assaulted.
  • The right to private property, so that a person can store their belongings and documentation in a safe place. Currently, Barcelona has no public storage for homeless people.
  • The right to housing, because in Barcelona the percentage of public and social housing is less than 2%, and there is no specific housing for the homeless. Currently, public and private shelters and centers provide accommodation for about 2,100 homeless people, but there are no options for the 1,200 people still living on the street.

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