Many people who are disadvantaged due to unemployment, poverty or a visible disability are frequently and continually shamed. This often occurs when in contact with public authorities or health-care institutions (at doctor's offices, hospitals or public authorities), and results in stress and health problems.
2,000 Euro Prize 2023
Region: Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Vienna
Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy
Fields of action: Poverty, Mental health, Law, Justice
Project owner: Die Armutskonferenz - Österreichisches Netzwerk gegen Armut und soziale Ausgrenzung; Austrian Anti Poverty Network ("Die Armutskonferenz") – Austrian Network against Poverty and social exclusion
Responsible person: Mag. Robert Rybaczek-Schwarz
In previous projects, people experiencing poverty noted that the presence of another person would be a useful strategy to prevent them from being shamed at public authorities. Moreover, that their role is not to provide advice or act as representatives: they are passive participants. With this in mind the Come Along – Against Exclusion and Shaming project was founded.
The project has received numerous requests for its services from people experiencing poverty. All stakeholders were involved in the development and implementation of the project: people experiencing poverty, volunteers, staff of public authorities, and services, who contributed feedback and reactions.
Through the Come Along project, those affected are supported in better asserting their rights and attending appointments with less fear, stress, and psychosocial pressure. The project enables and enhances voluntary commitment, and the volunteers gain insights into the everyday life of disadvantaged people.
The developed concept for the project is transferable to other organisations, allowing them to also incorporate the idea of the Come Along project into their services. Interested organisations are supported and advised in the implementation, and experiences from the pilot project are shared.
Photos © Nell Leidinger
“Just being present” and listening can contribute more than we would think, purports the Come Along project. Matching silent companions as buddies with people experiencing poverty, as an anti-discrimination measure, is an out-of-the-box idea. The project informs public officers, volunteers, and helps reduce stress levels of disadvantaged people at the same time. An innovative approach to combat the persistent social problems of exclusion and shaming