Street Support Project: a harm reduction approach to urban health and integration
Drug and alcohol-related nuisance is an important policy issue in nearly all smaller, medium-sized and bigger cities. Far from being a local matter of concern, alcohol and drug-related nuisance has become a relevant policy topic on a European level [Alcohol in Europe: A public health perspective, 2006; Drug-related public nuisance — trends in policy and preventive measures, 2005]. In response to this, the European Union has set out for itself the task of fostering cooperation on identifying effective regulations and best practices aimed at minimizing health and social impacts stemming from the harmful use of alcohol and drugs. [European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012–2020; EU Action Plan on drugs 2017-2020]
A broad range of participatory interventions and prevention activities have been developed to prevent nuisance among youngsters. However, interventions targeting adults are limited and mainly based on repressive and sanctionary acts, including arrests, restraining orders and fines. As a result, these populations are forced further onto the margins of society, increasing vulnerability, creating new barriers to accessing care, and does not target the conditions that caused social exclusion in the first place. Further, these interventions contribute to public spaces losing their public function as such, pointing towards broader trends of urban space privatization.
Correlation Network initiated a partnership – Street Support Project - within the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme to assess the situation in different European countries/cities. As such, the project as produced a European-wide assessment in the field of homelessness and the alcohol- and drug-related nuisance, produced National Reports in 6 European countries, describing the situation in regard to homelessness and alcohol- and drug-related nuisance, a Toolbox for service providers and local governments, including guidance and support for the development and implementation of inclusive adult learning and work integration opportunities, a selection and evaluation of Models of good practice within Europe to showcase effective adult learning and work integration opportunities, and has developed and implemented local pilot interventions and has validate them with the Self-Sufficiency Matrix (developed by the Municipal Health Service of Amsterdam and the City of Rotterdam) and showcase them as case studies.
The project has resulted in a comprehensive series of intellectual outputs -, ranging from theoretical to methodological approaches and data evidence - which validates the effectiveness of inclusive strategies and adult learning opportunities, providing support to this specific group. The project broadcast how strategies tackling wider economic and social exclusion, such as education, training and employment, can play a vital role in the (re)integration and recovery of homeless people, drug users and other marginalized groups.
Street Support Project has effectively delivered theoretical and methodological tools to social services, adult trainers and local governments, which work with people experiencing homelessness, people who use drug and alcohol in public space. Through their pilot projects and their evaluation, the project provides evidence of the impact that inclusive interventions has for both the target group and the community at large, especially when contrasted to sanctionary approaches.