Taking inspiration from the principles of the organization Dynamo International (Street Workers Network) and the experience that has been accumulated during the 5.500 hours, and counting, of constant presence by the side of our fellow citizens, we take the whole precedure to the next level. Street Embrace aims at every street connected individual that tries, through his own acquiescence and participation, to have an holistic approach towards dealing with social exclusion, through actions like direct observation, direct approach, direct actions and group action.
The first step for the team is to study the area. The team has to learn as much as possible about it, both theoretically (the historic, social and cultural framework of the area) and practically (people who live there). Afterwards, the second step is to establish its presence in that area through constant presence in it. The team observes, without it being mandatory to intervene from the beginning. A very important element of our work is to document the street connected people. The next step is to “introduce” ourselves and the team. We will say to the people who we are and why we are there.
This refers to creating a relationship with the person we are approaching, in order to collect information about his/her state, environment, family and past. In order to do the above, we have to have gained the trust of the individual. During the approach, we stand on the same level with each individual, showing him/her that we communicate on the same terms and that we are focused on this process and on the individual, while the other team members become our “eyes”, by being aware of what is happening outside the approach. We are there to experience, both mentally and emotionally, the individual that we are approaching, like we are in his/her position, but without forgetting that we are not in it.
This refers to covering either direct material needs (food, clothes, blankets, housing), consultation, psychological support or first aid, or more long-term needs (accompanying him/her to get an ID card, an unemployment card, a health card, information about hostels and other social structures and free services).
It takes place in an open space (squares, parks, roads) and it is usually for educational purposes. We create meeting points, it is very important for us to bring the local society closer to the street connected people, so as to make their relationship stronger through everyday life. The actions of One Stop and the Box are under this category.
Streeters act with empathy. Their skills are commitment, non-judgmental attitude, politeness, respect and discretion. Accepting diversity and the ability to constantly adjust are crucial points for us. Our team consists of people from our community that initiatively offer their time and talent to the street connected people. In this way, we continue to move in a steady pace through the streets of every neighborhood with solidarity. Sociologists, doctors, nurses, paramedics, lawyers, educators, translators and people that have experienced social exclusion can participate in Street Embrace.
‘Harm Reduction’ refers to policies, programs, and practices that aim primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing drug consumption. Harm reduction benefits people with problematic drug use, their families, and the community.
Under this scope, harm reduction consists of a central pillar of Street Embrace towards street-connected persons with problematic drug use. More specifically, during the approaches we freely provide:
- Safe Use Kits: This international practice aims at the reduction of the multiple uses of the injectable substances’ tools as well of their sharing and it looks forward to constraining the expansion of infectious diseases like HIV and others.
- First Aids
- Advice for Overdose, in an oral and a printed version.
However, Harm Reduction practices cannot but include alongside, movements towards an improved daily life of the society in total that is influenced by public drug use. In that framework, our team collects used needles and syringes in special boxes, in order to both turn the neighbors safer for local habitats and children, and avert their re-use.
During the collection process and the safe removal of the needles, we try to actively involve the people that use drugs, having as a target to augment not only the effectiveness of the action but also their empathy for the wider society, respect themselves and the others.
«In the beginning of the 21st century, oligarchies dominate, leading more and more people to poverty. The cities get degraded and tranformed into places of banishment for all those people who are pushed towards the fringes of the society, which experiences a significant value crisis. The solution lies in the innovations (political, cultural, social, financial, technical), that will come from below (grassroots movements) and create the new state, where every individual can be freely self-defined and can co-exist with others with mutual respect.»
-Tassos Smetopoulos- Streeter/ Steps Founder & Coordinator