The event, titled "On the Street: A Discussion about Homelessness with the Homeless", explored feelings of “terror and infinite loneliness,” the difficulties of everyday life on the street, the new reality created by Covid-19, and the attitudes of a society in which people pass homeless people by every single day. After a long period of lockdowns and confinement at home for many of us, the discussion focused on the experiences of people who are deprived of the comfort of a home.
Fotis Adamopoulos is among those who have found themselves without a home at some point, people we may have met or passed by on the street. Adamopoulos and four other formerly homeless people who now work as Shedia street magazine vendors participated in the live SNF Dialogues webcast.
“A heart-felt ‘good morning’ is worth more than money to a homeless person on the street. It is a form of psychological support for a homeless person, to feel seen in this world by the people passing by,” said Adamopoulos.
When you are homeless, you have nothing. For society, you are a zero and no one talks to you. For some people you stink, and others are just bothered by you. For whatever reason, no one ever talks to you.
"I would do the same thing before I became homeless. I also used to simply pass by these people. I never paid them any attention. But, it did happen to me, and now I know that this person who is sleeping on the sidewalk, on the park bench, would like to hear someone saying ‘good morning,’ would love for you to sit down with them and chat; help them forget about their troubles for just a bit. And if you can, any other help is always welcome,” said Nikos Servos, emphasizing that homelessness - even though it may feel distant - is something that can happen to anyone.
Regarding the effects of the pandemic on his daily life, Michalis Samolis said: “Many people believe that the coronavirus only brought on problems. For me, it also led to many other things. First of all, it changed people; it made them think about their fellow human beings who, due to the crisis, due to Covid-19, lost their jobs, their homes and were left in dire need. They started helping. I have seen this change in a lot of people.”
On support from the Greek state, Dimitra Piagou argued that “the state needs to form special groups that will approach the homeless. I won’t tell you that the state does absolutely nothing, but it does very little, and I will keep stressing this. It could make use of things already at its disposal and treat us, not like tools, but like people, because we are people.”
Vasilis Mavromatis replied to all those who mistakenly associate homelessness with delinquency. “Why must someone who is homeless always be considered a delinquent? We need to look at this from a different perspective and realize that this is still a person, who needs a helping hand.”
Α shorter version of the discussion
The discussion with the five people who have experienced homelessness was made possible through the dedicated contribution of the Shedia street magazine team.
The SNF Dialogues are curated and moderated by Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou and are held through the journalism non-profit organization iMEdD (incubator for Media Education and Development).
*The opinions expressed by Dialogues participants, whether officially representing institutions and organizations or themselves alone, at events, in articles, or in other audiovisual media are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) or iMEdD. Speakers’ remarks are made freely, without prior guidance or intervention from the team.