Social space gives homeless people the courage to return to society
In 2022, there were....
5.789homeless people in Denmark, three out of four of which were men.
When people become homeless, they often struggle to maintain employment and support themselves. This implies a significant cost for the individuals and their families, as well as for society in general. At Møltrup Community Home, homeless men are given the support they need to overcome alcohol and drug addiction, build skills, and regain the confidence to return to everyday life and the job market. For every person who returns to work, there is a huge benefit to society.
Not your average manor house
Just outside Herning is a whitewashed manor house. This is Møltrup Community Home, which has served as a home and work community for 250-300 homeless men each year since 1912. These men belong to all age groups and walks of life. What they have in common is the desire to leave alcohol and drugs behind, and to create a meaningful life for themselves and each other.
Work and community have long been the focal points for the residents of Møltrup. However, when the day's work is done, and there's nothing to occupy their hands and minds, boredom, loneliness and the urge to fall back into old habits can creep in. That is why in January 2022, a new living space was inaugurated at the manor house, consisting of multi-purpose halls, an activity kitchen and a workshop.
The new living space demonstrates how architecture can help people reconnect with society and return to work.
Improving social skills
Studies have shown that sports communities can function as a sort of practice field for social engagement (Danish Institute for Sports Studies, 2019).
The living space at Møltrup Community Home shows how architecture can create a safe and inclusive environment that encourages people to participate in the community. The residents and staff have pointed out how the multi-functional facilities, different-sized rooms and secluded seating areas have encouraged people who would otherwise keep to themselves to participate in leisure activities. Thus, the new living space creates opportunities for participation that help develop social skills, which in time will make it easier for the residents to join communities outside of Møltrup.
When I’m at an event, I often position myself near an exit so that I have the option to retreat. It works pretty well. The people who designed it must have thought about this need for people like me to get away suddenly and quickly.Resident
Reducing loneliness and the risk of relapse
AART's evaluation shows that the architecture and flexible features of the new living space help residents participate in leisure activities and the community far more often than before. According to residents and staff, this has created a stronger community where people feel less lonely and bored – an effect that can also prevent them from relapsing into addiction.
When you’ve been at work, it’s nice to come down here for the activities and to have a laugh – and you don’t have to think about work. It’s healthy.Resident
Stronger connection with the local community
Prior to the expansion of Møltrup Community Home, many residents found it difficult to leave the safe environment of the manor house to participate in local community activities. However, the new living space has also created a stronger involvement with the local community. With its large windows and events such as lectures, concerts and summer parties, more locals are now visiting Møltrup Community Home. Here, they can experience daily life in the new living space and interact with the residents. Research suggests that there is limited demand on the job market for the socially vulnerable, which is why it can be difficult to integrate them back into the workforce (VIVE, 2017). Thus, by getting the residents to participate in events with local citizens, they can become more recognized in the eyes of the world.
This way, businesses and people in the local community are invited in to see and meet the guys. If they have any prejudices, I think they’ll see that ”okay, these guys do have something to offer,” realizing that they can employ them for something or another.Staff
Each person who returns to work has the potential to save society between 223,000-339,000 DKK per year.
Greater employment opportunities
Creating positive experiences with leisure time, social situations and interaction with the outside world makes sense not only for the residents, but for society as well. Research shows that the participation of socially vulnerable citizens in social, creative or physical activities can help them prepare for further education or employment (VIVE, 2021). This has the potential of saving between 223,000-339,000 DKK per person in social benefits each year. At the same time, meaningful employment can prevent individuals from relapsing into addiction and substance abuse (VIVE, 2021).
Want to know more?
Read more about the impact of the new living space at Møltrup Community home in the full-length evaluation or get in contact with our Impact Team to learn more.
Sources (in Danish)
AART Effektteam, Antropologisk feltstudie med kvalitative interviews og observationer, 2021-22.