The Help Center for Foreignerc (HCF) in Łomża began operating in 2006 as an advisory point for foreigners. It was opened here due to its proximity to one of the centers for foreigners run by the Office for Foreigners, which had been in Łomża until 2010.
The center closed down in 2010 but the HCF in Łomża continues to operate due to its proximity to another, still active center in Czerwony Bor, as well as to serve families with refugee experience living in the city to this day. There is also a youth center for child refugees at the HCF.
Activities of the Help Center for Foreigners in Łomża
The HCF provides foreigners with the support of a cultural mentor who speaks Russian and Chechen, as well as a psychologist and lawyer. It is essential to employ such specialists to meet the needs of people with refugee experience, who often require both adaptive and psychological support as well as legal aid.
A cultural mentor, i.e. an employee with a refugee background, helps their clients solve everyday problems and, if necessary, directs them to our psychologist or lawyer.
The Help Center for Foreigners in Lomza operates at ul. Sadowa 8 and is open from Monday to Friday between 9-5 pm.
Youth center for child refugees
Shortly after opening the advisory center, it became clear that we also needed to provide support for children. With their traumatic experiences, breaks in education and their lack of Polish, child refugees face the difficult challenge of restarting their education in a foreign country and language.
In order to make it easier for child and teenage refugees to continue their education in Poland, we opened a youth center at the HCF, where children can receive help with learning Polish and their homework.
The youth center is open Monday through Friday throughout the school year. In the summer, we host day camps and integration activities here. We also invite refugees’ classmates to participate. The day-camp format combined with the summertime atmosphere serve as great icebreakers, helping the children get to know each other better. As a result, these relationships frequently improve over the next school year.
Last year, 38 children regularly visited the youth center. They received self-study support from volunteers.
Funding for the activities of the HCF and the youth center
Currently, the activities of HCF and the youth center in Łomża are possible thanks to the support of the Drzewo i Jutro Foundation.
However, any additional funding allows us to expand our efforts in helping those going through the refugee experience.