The Help Centre for Foreigners (in Polish: Centrum Pomocy Cudzoziemcom – CPC) in Łomża began operating in 2006 as a consultation point for foreigners. It was opened here due to its proximity to one of the centers for foreigners led by the The Office for Foreigners, which functioned in Łomża till 2010. Despite its closing, the CPC in Łomża continues to operate due to its proximity to another, still active center in Czerwony Bor, as well as to serve many families with refugee experiences that inhabit the town. There is also a youth center in the CPC in Łomża.
Przy łomżyńskim CPC działa także świetlica dla dzieci.
Activities of the Help Center for Foreigners in Łomża
The CPC provides foreigners with the support of cultural mentors who speak Russian, Chechen, and Ukrainian, a legal advisor, a psychologist for adults and children, a career advisor, and a Polish language teacher.
It is essential to employ such specialists to meet the needs of those with refugee experiences, who might require adaptive, legal, and psychological help as well as support with vocational activation and entering the job market. Cultural mentors who are employees that themselves come from refugee communities help with solving everyday problems that clients may face and, if necessary, they can direct them to other relevant specialists. In 2022, the CPC in Łomża supported 684 people, 649 of whom received help for the first time. Since February 2022, the Center provided 3662 mentor consultations, 1224 legal advice, 168 vocational consultations and currently there are 34 people attending Polish language classes.
The Help Center for Foreigners in Łomża operates from Monday to Friday between 8-4pm at 8 Sadowa Street. The youth center is open between 4-7pm (during winter break and school holidays times may be subject to change).
Youth center for child refugees
Shortly after opening the consultation point, it became clear that children are in need of support too. Having been exposed to traumatic events, educational gaps, and having no knowledge of Polish language, child refugees face a difficult challenge to study 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 next to the Help Center for Foreigners where children are assisted with learning Polish and doing their homework. The center also runs artistic, culinary, sports, and integration activities. During school holidays, kids can participate in excursions, camps and other activities organised by the Foundation.
Currently, 28 kids are enrolled in the youth center, which is open from Monday to Friday throughout the school year. During summer holidays, the center organises day-camps, integration activities, themed workshops, sports activities, and camping trips, which help children to get to know each other better, develop social skills and integrate interculturally.
Financing the projects of the Help Center for Foreigners and the youth center
The activities of the HCF and the youth center in Łomża are currently co-financed from the Labour Fund reserve for the implementation of the project selected in the competition entitled „Together We Can Do More – The First Edition of the Activation Program for Foreigners for the years 2022-2023”, announced as part of the Departmental Activation Program for Foreigners for the years 2022-2025; from CARE funds, and thanks to the support of our strategic partner BNP Paribas Foundation.
Photos: Damian Lemański