Yesterday I wrote about the changing face of Vesterbro and the gentrification of the area but it is important to remember that Vesterbro is still an area with socially vulnerable, low-income and also marginalised people no matter how many trendy publications laud it as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the world.
Sidegaden (or Side Street) is an environmental and educational project set up to support the community in Vesterbro. Located in Saxogade (above), the project was started in 1986 before the start of the urban renewal in Vesterbro by Settlementet (more of this organsiation below) and is still in operation and very much-needed today. It is run by a small number of employees and a lot of volunteers.
There are four main community businesses run by Sidegaden.
Cafe Sonja is a community cafe that gives work to a variety of people, giving them the chance to use their individual talents and skills to keep the cafe running. The cafe exists to encourage a diverse labour market and aims to give its staff a reason to get up and do something meaningful. Everyone involved does what they can to run the café. They offer a great selection of healthy and home cooked foods for anyone who want to come into the cafe. They recently added a small playroom area so parents can relax whilst their children play.
Gang i Gaden is a drop-in centre and work community where people can access advice on job training, support one another, take part in computer workshops and undertake odd jobs and maintenance for the other Sidegaden businesses. It also operates a small thrift shop. It is run by Settlementet and supported by Copenhagen Kommune.
There are two shops. The first is Hva’ Så, which is a family shop selling used clothes and toys as well as offering family activities such as baby music, courses and lectures. There is also the opportunity to access advice from health professionals such as midwives and health visitors and get support and advice on things such as breastfeeding, baby sleeping and parenting. There is always coffee and cakes provided by Cafe Sonja here.The second shop is Heidi go Bjarne (above) which sells good quality preloved clothes, handmade and redesigned clothes (my son’s current favourite T shirt is from this shop!) and unique interior things. They support many local artists and crafts people and sell things made by people in workshops in Gang i Gaden.
All these businesses are run by Settlementet, a community project that aims to help the vulnerable residents of Vesterbro. It has been in existence since 1921 and has been very important the development of housing conditions and working people’s living conditions in Vesterbro. The main location is at Dybbølsgade 41.
Today it is still a voluntary organization that advocates for socially vulnerable groups and operates a wide range of activities for Vesterbro’s citizens. The Sidegaden project above has motivated and integrated many unemployed people in a number of social enterprises. And the integration project, Project Sultana done a lot of work to integrate women with different ethnic backgrounds. Settlementet also organising many clubs for young and old as well as food clubs for those on low incomes and clubs for both men and women from the local Pakistani community.
The organisation offer confidential advice and support on social and legal issues for people of all ages and situations, psychological support, addiction support and support for those in violent situations.
This is all a fraction of the work Settlementet does.