The past weeks have been full of very intense work for us. In the first days of the war, we undertook interventions focused on people who needed immediate support. However, being fully aware that the help will be needed in the coming months and years, and that the wave of social involvement cannot last forever, we focused on long-term, systemic assistance and integration activities. To this end, we are intensively expanding our team of specialists and volunteers, significantly increasing the scale of the programs we have carried out so far. Also taking new initiatives and activities, especially addressed to groups diagnosed by us as particularly vulnerable, i.e. to children, youngsters, women, people after trauma, citizens of countries other than Ukraine.
What do we do? The overview of the activities
- We hire new employees, especially those who speak Ukrainian. The expansion of the team covers cultural mentors (the so-called frontline employees), coordinators of individual programs, psychologists and legal team, as well as the entire administrative base of the foundation.
- We open places with safe spaces at Polish-Ukrainian border crossings and set up day-care centers for children in Warsaw.
- We increase the availability of the Foreigners Assistance Center in Warsaw and Łomża.
- We organize transport from the border for the discriminated groups of people, especially from the countries of the Global South.
- We organize temporary accommodation in Warsaw for refugees in the most difficult situation.
- We are expanding the offer of free polish language courses for children and adults. We open new groups and increase the number of hours of classes. Language lessons will also be conducted in community centers in Warsaw.
- We are increasing the scope of in-kind assistance provided within the Foundation’s magazine. In-kind support includes both everyday items and vouchers.
- We recruit and train volunteers to work in integration programs, conduct classes with children in safe space places and after-school clubs, teach polish language and other aid activities aimed at people fleeing the war.
- Our team of lawyers prepares educational materials on the employment of people from Ukraine on the basis of the special act and the Temporary Protection Directive.
Safe spaces for children at reception points near the border
Neither border crossings nor reception points are adapted to the children’s needs. Moreover, children are one of the groups that we have diagnosed as the most vulnerable and at risk of trafficking. That is why we decided to create dedicated spaces at reception points, which will increase their safety.
Safe spaces for the youngest are places where children can play and take part in activities organized by the Foundation’s employees and volunteers cooperating with us. During this time, their mothers can think about what to do next, call their loved ones, or simply rest, while their children are looked after by responsible adults.
In March, we created 6 safe spaces for children at reception points. Here are some statistics as of 03/31/2022:
- The point in Hrubieszów has been operating since March 12, we worked there with 565 children.
- The smallest point in Łodyna (Ustrzyki Dolne) opened second on 21.03. 51 children used it already.
- The point has been operating in Przemyśl since March 29, and it was visited by 72 children in two days.
- The point in Korczowa started operating on March 30, and on the first day it was visited by 21 children.
- The space for children in Zamość also works from 30/03 and on the first day we hosted 7 children there.
- There were 5 children in Dorohusk, a point as small as Łodyna, which had been operating since 30.03.
We also plan to open 14 spaces for children in places of accommodation for refugees and refugees in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship.
Day-care centers in Warsaw
Parallel to safe spaces at reception points, we are also opening new day-care centers in Warsaw. These are places where children will be able to play, develop their skills and interests, and receive help in preparing for school. An important element of the day-care center will also be teaching polish language – 10 hours a week, in two age groups.
The first one, in district Ochota, starts in the first half of April. Day-care centers intended for children 6-12 years of age and will operate from Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. In each of the day-care centers we employ 4 new people to work with children. The recruitment of volunteers and volunteers is also planned. There are plans to open more community centers, as well as training for people who are willing to conduct similar activities on their own.
Activities of the Foreigners Assistance Center
The Foreigners Assistance Center (CPC) is a unique place where foreigners can use the help of cultural mentors free of charge and, if necessary, obtain specialist legal and psychological assistance.
Currently, the Foreigners Assistance Center is open to everyone, Monday to Friday, from 9:00 – 17:00, without prior registration.
The scale of the needs of people looking for a safe place in Poland requires us to significantly increase the team of cultural mentors and other specialists providing support under the CPC.
During February 24 – March 24, at the Foreigners Assistance Center in Warsaw:
- We have registered 348 new clients and clients,
- 514 mentoring consultations took place,
- 80 people benefited from the consultations of a career counselor,
- 192 people benefited from the legal consultation,
- There were 25 psychotherapeutic consultations of children, 21 psychological consultations of adults and 116 psychotherapeutic consultations of adults.
At the same time, we registered 123 new clients at the Foreigners Assistance Center in Łomża and 202 people at the Łódź Multicultural Center. The total number of people registered in all our institutions was 673, of which 470 are citizens of Ukraine. These numbers are much higher than the statistics for the previous months.
Transport & Housing support
The first group we helped, either with transport and accommodation, were citizens of third world countries that are running away from the same war Ukrainians do, yet can’t count on the same level of support when it comes to transportation and accommodation.
Currently, the Foundation’s housing support is used by both persons with a Ukrainian passport and citizens of other countries.
Ocalenie Foundation can offer 3 types of short-term accommodation:
- Night-shelter in Biennale, Warsaw. This place is dedicated for migrants that have difficulties in finding permanent accommodation.
- Hotel stay, Warsaw, for all escaping from war – up to 7 days stay over.
- SonarHouse company provided x3 apartments, dedicated for temporary accommodation, for those in the most difficult situation.
In a night-shelter Biennale only, until 25th of March, accommodation and housing support was delivered to approximately 200 people and 2 dogs. SonarHome apartments are currently occupied by 11 adults and 6 children.
Needs and challenges
Despite extensive experience in operating in crisis mode, responding to the numerous needs of refugees from Ukraine is a great challenge for us.
Apart from our activities directly related to war, we’re constantly performing our standard procedures. We’re still actively helping on Polish-Belarusian border, where the humanitarian crisis is still an open topic, and where we’re still providing education and integration activities.