Hungarian Homeless People in Basel: Homelessness and Social Exclusion from a Lifeworld-oriented Social Work Perspective
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Although their exact number is unknown, supposedly dozens of destitute Hungarian homeless people currently live in Basel, Switzerland. Despite their vulnerability and severe social needs, social workers and other experts know little about their living conditions. This paper aims to explore the dimensions of time and space as well as the characteristics of personal and institutional relationships of Hungarian homeless people living in Basel. The study applies Hans Thiersch’s lifeworld-oriented perspective on social work that contributes to the better understanding of the affected homeless peoples` daily struggles. The study is based on semi-structured qualitative interviews carried out with both homeless people and social workers in the institutions of homeless care. The paper concludes that due to the ‘protectionist’ mechanisms of Swiss social policy, unregistered Hungarian homeless people are excluded from most cantonal social and health services. However, their daily routine is strictly structured by the opening hours of the low-threshold services and their human relationships are limited to other homeless people as well as social workers at soup kitchens and day-care services.