6. These walls by heart
What is a shelter? A safe place.
However, shelter is often precarious and even in collective places, as emergency shelters, they should protect from the outside, but also provide access to one’s own interiority. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 400 persons in homelessness situation were admitted to five new Emergency Centers adapted from pre-existing social infrastructures in Lisbon. About 70 persons self-identified as having a problematic alcohol consumption. One year after, we follow these persons and conducted telephonic interviews to understand their experience. Carefully listening to their reflections, we will go to those places now returned to what they were before. What traces remain from their passage? The walls know the story. Some testimonies will come from the walls, others from the streets. Persons in homeless situations have a higher prevalence of alcohol use disorder. They often fail to access services that reflect their needs. Their voices are frequently not heard, especially regarding the request of full abstinence that ultimately keeps them unprotected on the street. That is why we listen to their experiences in emergency centres created to respond to an unexpected pandemic where a low threshold medication intervention was implemented to allow the collective confinement demanded, to prevent acute withdrawal syndrome and, ultimately, their drop-out due to continuous alcohol use.
- Ana Neto - Unidade de Alcoologia de Lisboa, PT
- Caroline Cranskens - Independent filmmaker
- Elodie Claeys - Independent filmmaker
- Ricardo Fuertes - Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (2017-2021), PT
- Mário Santos - Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, PT