City Wardens Assist Homeless People in Reykjavík Skip to content

City Wardens Assist Homeless People in Reykjavík

According to estimates, there are currently around 120 people living on the streets of Reykjavík. Three so-called borgarvörður, or city wardens, assumed their duties on June 1 to assist these people. It is a one-year experimental project.

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Icelandic police officers. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

“The aid work is delivering results and many people have improved their health, short or long term,” police officer Haraldur Sigurðsson, one of the city wardens, told Morgunblaðið.

The other two city wardens are employees of Reykjavík City authorities. Their subjects are often suffering from addictions or mental illness.

“After 25 years in the police one knows the people on the street and has been a participant in their lives one way or the other. Police officers often have to assist these people and it is in fact a larger part of our work than most people would assume,” Haraldur added.

“Our role is to come to the assistance of people who have no one to turn to because of their misery and illness. They have the right to service and respect,” said social worker Hugrún Guðmundsdóttir, another of the city wardens. Haraldur serves as a guide to her and her associate, Baldvin Örn Einarsson.

“To provide assistance to the people on the street is a question of human rights in my mind. We are now in our first days of operation, examining the situation and determining where the need is most. Once we have obtained more experience and our services have become known, I expect us to be successful,” Hugrún concluded.

Reykjavík City authorities are currently working on a survey on the number and situation of homeless people, following which a universal policy on their affairs will be made.

The city and various charities operate shelters for homeless people in the city center where they can stay night and day, have meals and other services. The city wardens are on duty from noon until the evening, taking homeless people to the shelters.

“I have longed for getting onto the right track and am now waiting for treatment,” said 29-year-old Skúli Hilmarsson who been addicted to hard drugs for the past 12 years. “I really want to quit but the success depends on myself, of course.”

ESA

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