Vatican opens showers for the homeless

Jumping underneath a steaming hot shower is something most of us take for granted, yet for the homeless simply being able to have a wash can be a real luxury.

Luckily for homeless people in Rome, there are new facilities being opened in the Vatican City that will feature showers and a barber's booth where they can freshen up and have a haircut.

The new shower block has been built in an existing lavatory building that is used by pilgrims and tourists near St Peter's Square.

It was commissioned by Pope Francis after hearing from the Papal Almoner Konrad Krajewski how the biggest need for those living on the streets of Rome was washing facilities.

Each person who enters the block will be given a towel and some soap, as well as a change of underwear, deodorant, shaving cream, a razor and a toothbrush.

The showers will be open every day except Wednesdays, when the Papal Audience is held and crowds gather in the square. Volunteer barbers and hairdressing students will offer free haircuts every Monday – a day when most salons and barbershops in Italy are closed.

High-tech materials rather than porcelain tiles have reportedly been used to create the facilities, making them easy to clean for maximum hygiene.

It's not the first time that the difficulties facing homeless people in accessing showers and keeping themselves clean have been addressed. In California in the United States, an initiative called Dignity on Wheels has been launched to provide a solution to the problem.

Project WeHOPE is currently raising money for a mobile trailer featuring showers and laundry facilities that would travel throughout the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara, while in San Francisco the charity Lava Mae has already rolled out homeless shower buses.

Back to Blog