Kompasset (English)

About Kompasset

At Kompasset, we greet all homeless migrants. But our users are primarily EU-citizens, who use their right to freedom of movement in the European Union to come to Denmark to look for a job and a better life. They do not have access to public services and hit several barriers when trying to integrate into the Danish job market and society. This causes frustration and social marginalization. We aim to reduce this misfortune by providing care and supporting the migrants in navigating the Danish society.

If you want to read more about our work with homeless migrants, then read the report about “Unregistered homeless migrants in Copenhagen“.

Target group

Kompasset assists people from 54 different countries. 75% are EU-citizens and nearly 25% are third-country nationals (outside Europe), with a residence permit in another EU-country. The user group is without Danish registration (e.g. CPR or refugee number) but are entitled to be here – either as jobseeker or on tourist visa.


At Kompasset, users will find:

  • A place to rest and sleep in the daytime
  • Help in applying for jobs and making CV’s (EU-citizens)
  • Assistance in getting registered in Denmark
  • Legal advice on their rights and responsibilities
  • Storage of personal items and valuables/documents
  • A shower (5 kr) and a cup of coffee
  • A supportive and friendly environment
  • Danish language class
  • Bike repair shop

These services are provided by staff and around 30 competent volunteers, who together speak the main European languages. Users can therefore get advice and comfort in e.g. English, Romanian, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Italian and Greek.

Join as volunteer

You can volunteer in many different ways at Kompasset – join our bike repair every Wednesday, offer good chats and a comforting shoulder in our day shelter, become a trained counsellor or mentor, accompany users to authorities or support our Danish language class every Monday. Stability, dedication and patience are key words for volunteering.

We have a dedicated crew of around 25 volunteers – some are MA-students in Global Refugee Studies or Law, others are jobseekers, retired social workers, journalists, expats. Usually volunteers have 1-2 shifts every or every other week.

For more info, please contact Kompasset’s volunteer coordinator Daniela Văcărețu. Info can be found under “employees”.


Christian M. Cramon
+45 2399 8383

Susannah L. Sønderlund
+45 2335 6281

Daniela Văcărețu
Frivilligkoordinator, rådgiver
+45 2153 5486

Silvia Fontana
Rådgiver, arbejdsmiljø, migrantnetværk Kbh.
+45 2623 2079

Nick Crofts
Rettigheder og dokumentation, rådgiver
+45 2335 6037

Alice Skjelbo
+45 2479 2520

Jette Ramsøe
+45 2479 2520

Jan Pietsch
+45 2479 2526

Simona Barbu
+45 2491 5605

Ana-Maria Cioraru
+45 2479 2528


The Outreach project was established by Kompasset and FEAD (Fund of European Aid to the most Deprived) in 2016 in response to the increased number of rough-sleeping migrants in Copenhagen, particularly those coming from Central and Eastern Europe, mainly Romania and Hungary. Outreach aim to build relationships with marginalized homeless migrants and help connect them with services that can help them in their daily life: places to sleep inside, health clinics, counselling and legal assistance.

Additionally, Outreach is aimed at creating a welcoming and friendly environment for those arriving in the city centre, no matter their background. Outreach mostly functions around Vesterbro and the city center and is in a daily partnership with Mariatjenesten and Istedgade 100. Outreach provides a physical presence for homeless migrants to reach out to and has been in contact with 258 different people during 2018. Outreach consists of two full-time employees and a few volunteers.

Emergency night shelter (Oct-March) in Hellig Kors church

During the coldest month Kompasset runs a night shelter in collaboration with Hellig Kors church, Nørrebro. During three seasons 2016-19 professional night staff has welcomed 40 people 6 nights a week, where they sleep o mattresses on the church floor. It’s a secure spot to rest from 22.30-07 and there has been more than 17,000 ‘sleeps’ during the three years. The night shelter has 4 full-time employees, 4 temps and 6 volunteers.

The Extra Mile

1-1 support is meaningful when trying to get back on your feet and coping with a homeless life in the streets of Copenhagen. Kompasset coordinates a mentor programme which aims to support vulnerable EU-citizens. Volunteer mentors are matched with individual users of Kompasset who then become their mentees. Some need help in reaching the Danish job market, others need support in dealing with alcohol abuse while some need a weekly personal commitment to maintain hope and motivation to reach a better life situation.

FAQ homeless migrants

Where do unregistered homeless migrants come from?Most foreign homeless come from other European countries (75%) and nearly 25% come from countries outside Europe, especially West African countries. The most significant nationality is Romanian.

What does the word ’unregistered’ refer to? Illegal people?

Homeless migrants do not have registration in Denmark (CPR or refugee number) but they are entitled to be here for a limited time. EU citizens can freely travel to another EU country – to reside, work or study – within a certain time frame. EU citizens do not have to have a residence permit of any sort. Most non-EU citizens have a residency document from another EU country and with this can travel freely as a tourist for 3 months. Non-EU citizens MUST have a work permit from the Danish authorities in order to work.

Why do we see unregistered homeless migrants in Denmark?

Homeless, destitute migrants have left their home country and hope for better opportunities in Denmark and many other EU countries. Extreme poverty and lack of jobs push many unskilled workers to more prosperous countries like Denmark. Homeless migrants hope to earn money to support their families at home. Most want to return to their home countries and have no wish to reside in Denmark.

Do unregistered homeless migrants reside legally in Denmark?

Yes, for a certain time period EU and non-EU citizens may reside in DK. They must support themselves and may not be ‘a burden to society’. Homeless migrants’s stay depends on each individual’s passport.

Can unregistered homeless migrants get help from the public system in Denmark?

Public help is very limited for unregistered migrants. Emergency health care is a human right. EU citizens can register as job-seekers through the public job centres. Homeless migrants must have worked a certain number of hours in DK in order to receive e.g. welfare. Social services like shelters are for certain target groups. Most homeless migrants are turned away from the publicly funded night shelters since they are not significantly in need.

Can homeless migrants work in Denmark?

EU citizens can freely work in Denmark and do not need a work permit. Are they offered a contract they can start work immediately! Non-EU citizens MUST have a work permit in order to work.


Can homeless migrants sell Hus Forbi or other homeless newspapers in Denmark?

Yes, if they speak some Danish Hus Forbi is a possible income. Hus Forbi has some requirements in order to register as salesman. Many homeless migrants sell the homeless magazine ‘Strada’ and ‘Illegal’.

Why don’t homeless migrants just travel back home?

Many wish to return and live with their family and friends in their home country. Lack of work, lack of opportunities and bad economy make people leave their home. If conditions change for the better most would return as soon as possible.

Why are there many African men at the public library?

A day for a homeless person is very long. There are limited places to seek peace and escape bad, cold weather e.g. There are day shelters with certain opening hours, but free public toilets are e.g. in demand. Public libraries are available all over town and many homeless seek out these peaceful places.

How can African bottle collectors on bikes have nice clothes, sneakers and a smartphone?

Many homeless migrants are young, African men. They have never encountered ‘picking bottles’ as a way of income before they reach Denmark. Like most human beings they want to look nice and presentable. Picking bottles is a dirty, undignified job and many would prefer a ‘real job’ with contract, benefits and nice work conditions. The majority of African homeless migrants may not take a job in DK since they do not have an EU passport. They have very slim chances of receiving a work permit.

Are the homeless beggars a part of organized crime?

There exists no research documenting begging being organized crime. Many beggars come in groups and assist each other. Some hold the money and keep it safe while others actively beg on the streets.

How come big families come to Denmark in big vans?

Due to extreme poverty in the home country some homeless migrants travel together and split the costs in reaching the chosen designation. A group of inhabitants of small villages chip in and travel together. Some sleep in the vans or use them as base. Having a van does not mean a prosperous background – quite the contrary.

Why don’t the homeless people go and sleep at the shelters?

There are only a very limited number of night shelters in Copenhagen. The publicly funded shelters are for certain target groups with abuse and mental health issues. If you do not suit the target group, you are not welcome at the shelters.

Why do you see homeless sleeping in groups in the parks?

You are at risk sleeping rough – e.g. theft, hate crimes – so some people feel safer in smaller groups. Due to new legislation it is prohibited to be ‘a nuisance to the public order’. Homeless sleeping rough risk getting a fine if the police rules ‘disturbance of public order’.

Are many homeless migrants Roma? What is Roma?

Roma are a European ethnic minority. There are app 10-12 million Roma in Europe, esp. in Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece. Roma live extremely marginalized with discrimination, lack of education, poverty and unemployment. In Kirkens Korshær we meet Roma in our homeless services, but we do not have specific numbers.

Why do foreign homeless break into our backyards to look through the trash?

Danes recycle and have storage areas of ‘storskrald’. It is possible to find valuable items which are worth a lot in some countries. To Danes items might seem like junk and worthless. For homeless migrants any income is extremely important and might support a family in the home country. Going through trash is also a way of survival.

How can I help homeless migrants?

You can support the shelters with various donations that might benefit homeless. You can also sign up to volunteer at social services assisting homeless migrants. You can help inform and influence the politicians to make conditions better for destitute people in Denmark. You can offer EU citizens a job and include foreigners be part of the Danish workforce.

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