Kompasset (English)

About Kompasset

At Kompasset (English: The Compass) we greet all homeless migrants. 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 by 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“. For general statistics, read “STATISTICS KOMPASSET KIRKENS KORSHÆR, 2019-2020

Click on the links below for the referal list for social services in Copenhagen for people
without Danish registration (yellow card):
List in English
Lista serviciilor sociale (în română)

Target group

Kompasset assists people from 54 different countries. 75% are EU-citizens and around 25% are third-country nationals (non-EU citizens), 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 jobseekers 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 their native tounge, 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 workshop every Wednesday
  • Offer good chats and a comforting shoulder in our daytime shelter
  • Become a trained counsellor or mentor
  • Accompany users to authorities
  • Support our Danish language class every Monday.

Stability, dedication and patience are key 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 and expats. Usually volunteers have 1-2 shifts every or every other week.

For more info, please contact Kompasset’s volunteer coordinator Annemette Nyfos. Contact information can be found under “Staff”.


Front desk
+45 2479 2520



Allan Bærentzen
+45 2399 8383

Graham Yantis
Deputy Manager
+45 2335 6281

Annemette Nyfos
+45 2151 0741

Silvia Fontana
Counselor, work environment, migrant network Cph.
+45 2623 2079

Nick Crofts
Counselor, rights and documentation
+45 2335 6037

Elisabet Kass
Rights- and knowledge Officer
+45 2153 5486

Jette Ramsøe
Day shelter and health
+45 2479 2520

Jan Pietsch
Manager, night shelter
+45 2479 2526

Ana-Maria Cioraru
+45 2479 2528

Katrine Sanaker
+45 2491 5605

Lotte Georgakatos
Day shelter, health
+45 2479 2520
l.georgakatos@kirkenskorshaer.dk .


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 aims 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. The project 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. The project consists of two full-time employees and a few volunteers.

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

During the coldest months Kompasset runs a night shelter in collaboration with Hellig Kors church in Nørrebro. Since 2016, professional night staff has welcomed 40 people 6 nights a week, where they sleep on mattresses on the church floor. It’s a secure spot to rest during the night and there has been more than 17,000 ‘sleeps’ the first 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 existence 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 become their mentees. Some need help in reaching the Danish job market, others support in dealing with alcohol abuse, while some need a weekly, personal commitment to maintain hope and motivation in reaching 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 represented nationality is Romanian.

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

Homeless migrants from non-EU countries are often not registered 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, often in Southern Europe, and with this are allowed to travel freely as a tourist for 3 months. The word “illegal” are therefore often misleading, because they often do have a residence permit in an EU country. Non-EU citizens must, however, have a work permit from the Danish authorities in order to work in Denmark.

Why do we see unregistered homeless migrants in Denmark?

Homeless, destitute migrants have left their home countries with the hope of finding better opportunities, not only in Denmark but many other EU countries. Extreme poverty and lack of job opportunities push many unskilled workers to more prosperous countries like Denmark. Homeless migrants often hope to find work to earn money so they can 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 have the right to reside in DK. They must support themselves and cannot not be “a burden to society”. The lenght of homeless migrants’ stay depends on and varies from each individual’s home country and 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 jobseekers 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 because they are deemed not “significantly” in need.

Can homeless migrants work in Denmark?

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

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 magazines ‘Strada’ and ‘Illegal’.

Why don’t homeless migrants just travel back home?

Many do wish to return and live with their family and friends in their home country. Lack of work, lack of opportunities and bad economies make people leave their home  and also make them stay in the EU. If conditions in their home countries change for the better, most return as soon as possible.

Why are there many African men at the public library?

A day for a homeless person can seem very long. There are limited places to seek peace and quiet and escape bad and cold weather. Day shelters have limited opening hours, so free, public toilets, for example, are often in demand, but few and far between. Therefore public libraries are sought out due to their tranquility and availablility all over town.

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

Many homeless migrants are young, West African men. They have never encountered the collection of bottles as a way of income before they reach Denmark. Like most human beings they want to look nice and presentable. Collecting bottles is a dirty and, to many, undignified job and many would prefer a real job with contract, benefits and normal work conditions. The majority of the West African homeless migrants are not allowed to work in Denmark since they do not have a Danish work permit or an EU passport. Their chances of receiving a work permit are usually very slim.

Are homeless beggars part of organized crime?

There exists no research documenting begging being part of organized crime. Many beggars, however, come to Denmark and work in groups – to assist each other and for safety. Some hold the money to keep it safe whilst 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, often drug users and people with mental health issues. If you do not qualify for the target group, you often are not welcome at the shelters.

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

Because there are so few night shelters, many homeless people are forced to sleep outside. Sleeping rough comes with great risks to the individual– e.g. theft, robbery and hate crimes – so some people feel safer in small groups. Due to new legislation it is prohibited to be ‘a nuisance to the public order’, a loose definition that includes sleeping two or more people at the same spot. Homeless sleeping rough risk getting a fine if the police rules ‘disturbance of public order’. Futhermore people can get a so called “zone prohibition”, meaning that the homeless person can be prohibited from being in the municipality in which the person were sleeping for up to three months.

Are many homeless migrants Roma? What is Roma?

Roma is an Indo-Aryan ethnic minority descended from Nothern India, most of whom live in Europe. There are approximately 10-12 million Roma in Europe, especially in Romania, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece.  The Romani people often live extremely marginalized lives, facing discrimination, lack of acces to education, poverty and unemployment. In Kirkens Korshær we meet Romanis in our homeless services, but we do not have specific numbers.

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

Danes recycle and have storage areas of “storskrald” (garbage too big for the regular garbage collectors to pick up). It is possible to find valuable items which are worth a lot in some countries. To Danish citizens, these items might seem like junk and without value, but for homeless migrants any income is extremely important and might support a family in the home country. Going through “trash” therefore becomes a way of survival.

How can I help homeless migrants?

You can support the shelters with various donations that might benefit the homeless. You can also sign up to volunteer at social services assisting homeless migrants, e.g. Kompasset. You can help inform and influence your (local) politicians to make conditions better for destitute people in Denmark. The most effective help for the individual homeless person would be to offer those with a work permit a job, thus including them in the Danish workforce and society.

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