Barcelona offers temporary shelter to homeless people
Operation aims to combat problems of sleeping rough in the cold
The recent cold snap in Catalonia hits some people harder than others. For those who do not have a roof over their heads, it is particularly hard. After three days of being on alert, the Barcelona City Council has put in motion its 'cold operation' providing temporary accomodation to 235 homeless people over three nights.
The operation is being carried out with the daily participation of around thirty professionals and volunteers from organizations such as the Red Cross. It will continue over the coming days as a preventive measure, with 72 additional spaces being offered for people at the shelter based in the Poble Nou neighbourhood of the capital.
The initiative's aim is to find people sleeping in the street and warn them of the expected low temperatures forecast, as well as the dangers entailed sleeping in these conditions. If people want to take up the offer of shelter, teams will accompany them to a place where they can sleep temporarily. If the offer is rejected, advice will be given on how to deal with the cold.
According to the Deputy Mayor of Social Rights, Laia Ortiz, "between 800 and 1,000 people are sleeping in the street" in the city of Barcelona
Throughout the city as a whole, around 2000 places are available to people sleeping in the streets. Since the initiative's initiation on November 29, 4,922 nightly stays have been recorded.
Barcelona is not alone in its attempts to aid those less fortunate, who find themselves sleeping rough in the bitterly cold winter nights.
In the northern city of Girona, where temperatures at night often drop below zero, a new homeless centre recently opened its doors to those who have nowhere else to go. With seventeen beds available, it provides shelter and respite from the freezing nights.
It will stay open until March 15, when the weather starts getting warmer. Since the shelter’s opening at the beginning of January, its beds have all been full.
In Girona, there are between 100 and 125 homeless people sleeping on the street, at ATMs, under archways, or in squats or abandoned warehouses. They form part of the approximately 11,500 homeless in Catalonia (out of 37,000 who suffer from “serious housing problems”), according to the Arrels Foundation.