As somebody said, on 24th of February Poland became a big non-governmental organization. A small cluster of this movement can be observed at Warszawa Zachodnia Bus and Railway Station. Groups of friends, neighbors and volunteers help identify people’s needs and match them with available support. Many of them are professionals experienced in homelessness street work, crisis intervention, social work, Housing First, civic advice national and international networking.
Polish borders have already been crossed by over 2 million people fleeing Ukraine. Over 500 000 refugees came to Warsaw. About 300 000 of them moved further abroad as soon as transportation was available. Our town is now hosting about 200 000 women, children and seniors from Ukraine. They are in crisis. And it is also a crisis of homelessness.
The way the people of Warsaw reacted is unprecedented. Almost everyone is hosting people from Ukraine. Grupa Zasoby, an informal initiative launched by young people through social media mobilized over 5000 places in private apartments. Already 4500 people were hosted in flats rooms and sofas.They do not know but it one big Social Rental Enterprise.
Railway and bus stations, congregate reception centers and day centers are full of volunteers aged from 12 to 75 years, of Polish and Ukrainian nationality and all sorts of professions. Hundreds of workers of public offices from directors to front line workers are present 24/7 in every place where refugees appear. They take on new duties, night shifts and new ways of working.
Private companies are providing hotel beds, food, cosmetics, diapers, beds, blankets and free taxi and free railway tickets.
Many offers are coming from abroad: buses to Berlin or Madrid, rooms in Hamburg and Sweden or coffee from the Netherlands served directly from the car parked on #Dworzeczachodni.
Almost every day a new useful app is created such as EU4UA for matching refugees with housing and support offers from Europe.
Local and national government is gradually following through providing structures for civic activity. The pace of this process is well known to NGOs. At 10 am organizations from Warsaw receive an email informing that they can apply for special governmental funding. The deadline is set for the next day 4pm.
Many of us fear that this effort may soon not be enough. Polish towns are full. Population of Warsaw grew 12% within three weeks. Immediate support is vital but long term solutions are necessary. Housing, education and health care systems which were already under strain due to failed reforms and pandemia, may collapse.
People who seek refuge are more distressed and traumatized. They witnessed death of their relatives and neighbors, their flats were trembling from the bombs, families were separated. They traveled for tens of hours and they do not know what to do next. Psychological support is needed as well as housing, jobs, education and health care.
New crisis have not solved previous crises such as long term homelessness just to mention my regular field of interest. Housing First Poland Foundation urgently needs to collect 20000 PLN (4500 EURO) to finish renovations of #Housingfirst apartments for our clients. They have been long waiting for a safe place. Thousands of refugees need housing too. There are still refugees pushed back and forth by two states in the forests on Byelorussian-Polish border. They have no chance for legal stay.
We continue to do what we can. Please join in and support our work.
Fundacja Najpierw Mieszkanie Polska/Housing First Poland Foundation
PL31 1750 0012 0000 0000 3343 4863