Project     ‘Dignity  and  Well-being’     phase 3

SHELTER as  :  Emergency  Services,  what  about

Accessibility  &  Quality   -   Congruence  &  Efficiency   -   Sustenability  &  Innovation






  • Emergency: a serious, dangerous, temporary, often unexpected situation requiring immediate action.

  • Shelter:  a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger, which should immediately  respond to the fundamental human right of refuge and protection and refreshment, food and drink


With regard to homeless people, there are two emergency services that encounter the largest number of homeless people:

  • Inside : Shelter and its operators

  • Outside: Outreach and its operators

·     Welcoming and going to the meeting : are two functions of the same take care of person. The pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted the critical aspects of both, but at the same time it has also provided an opportunity to review and correct past inefficient models, deinstitutionalizing in a certain sense inadequate institutions, and above all to innovate by proposing not only up-to-date structures but above all prototypes more attentive to the person, more attentive to respect for privacy than to the economy of the service, more attentive to reintegration than to assistance.  Is it because of the pandemic situation we know this? I think our result of the project we have been doing during the last years in SMES already show us all the problems/ 


SHELTER  -  multivalent  function

Three complementary functions best express the overall meaning we intend to encompass and express with the word SHELTER:  
a) crossroads;  b) observatory;  c) bridge

  1. CROSSROADS  : the shelter as the crossroads of people in a situation of poverty and extreme poverty, in need of themost  ‘basic & emergency services’ : day and/or night – drop-in  - shower & clothes  -  canteen…
    More than a place where the
    poor people converge to sleep and to eat (satisfaction of primary needs) , the shelter has become more  and  more the social reference space & refuge of current social suffering.

  2. OBSERVATORY : the shelter – at same time - could become also a privileged observatory of the causes and consequence of this poverty. Listening carefully to the said and unseeded of the suffering of these people, try to understand the request of the person and the multiple causes that have reduced him in this condition.

  3. BRIDGE  : the shelter insure too  the  function of a potential bridge  connecting these need situations with those who work in social and health services.  Not only take care of person welcomed, but  also  to facilitate connection and  accessibility with community  based services . /And a bridge to housing???/


1)  How these 3 functions are expression of social mission and global function of services ?

2)  What about  Innovation of Emergency services  ?

3)  How  shelter contribute to inclusion process, adapted in personal way to all divers people ?


1.  Primary purpose: the  shelter is a service to the person in need, respecting their dignity,  their rights,  his  will.
A service that is available, that welcomes, that listens, that tries to respond to the
 person, heard in his need.

2.   Principle of reality:   shelters in Europe,  as emergency services for homeless people exists and, if no one really believes in the recent slogan "end of homelessness  by  2030" we will also agree that unfortunately or fortunately shelters  should still be there   (cf. Shelter  and  winter/cold program)
the principle of reality leads us to think that what we cannot cure definitely, it would at least do well to care at best until necessary
...  And with all the means at their disposal..

3.   Institutionalization of the service: over the years  and for several reasons and in  most cases,   the shelters have become  an  institution, i.e. the public or private body, established to meet any specific need of a given population.   But in this  way the  shelter in most cases has become a place where  settlement, provisions, spaces ... impose their own standards,  their own principles,  often  resulting in  situations  of rejection with negative consequences  for all.

4.   Deinstitutionalization: is the person first and foremost  possible?
First of all deinstitutionalization means  to  listen and  understanding the person with respect for the person.


  1. accessibility &  hospitality   -   relation  between  outside (street) and inside (shelter)

  2. congruent services   in relation to individual persons with  specific  needs 

  3. quality & continuity care  in  order to avoid the permanent repetition of at the need to access emergency care services.


1.      Mutual learning   -     Innovative proposals and new perspectives     -    shelters de-institutionalization:
    lightening of structures to guarantee particular attention to the singularity of the person.

2.      Disseminate information  about    ‘efficient  and  innovative ‘ practices

3.      Advocacy  and  lobbying 

:  in the end this is the most interesting point: how the various proposals and projects for solutions to the housing crisis contribute to offer congruent, adequate and sustainable responses to the demand for dignity and well-being of each person.

To promote  together  training sessions, focus groups, workshops and webinar, where – together – will  be  possible to evaluate  situation by divers points of view but with the same objective : dignity and well-being.
It is
 not competition  between institutions - programs - projects and services that will allow for more effective responses, but only  complementary collaboration for respect of diversity for dignity/fundamental rights  and  human well-being.

Together  also  advocacy & lobbying  for insure  the  respect of  fundamental human wrights of each people.

SMES-EUROPA  : smeseu@smes-europa.org  -  +32.2.5385887  -  +32.475634710