Bridging Communities in times of Crisis: Lessons from Poland

21-22 November, Warsaw

Bridging communities is always a challenge in a time of crisis. The one unfolding in Ukraine has had profound effects on the Republic of Poland. Almost two million people have crossed the border since February 2022, 960.000 of which are beneficiaries of temporary protection.

In response, Poland has enacted a Special legislation to assist Ukrainian citizens and grant them protection within its territory.

Under Article 31 of the Special Act, each refugee was allocated a single cash benefit worth PLN 300 to cover the cost of living – food, clothes, shoes, hygiene products and accommodation. Available data indicates that as of the 15 of November 2023, 1.294.814 people have received assistance. The total amount of these benefits is equivalent to approximately 90 million euro.

Complementary measures, activated with the support of official entities and non-governmental organizations, include the following areas:

  • free health services, such as psychological assistance and medical assistance;
  • social inclusion – active integration, emergency purchases from social economy entities;
  • education – preschool, general and vocational education, facilitated by intercultural assistants. This area also includes Polish courses for Ukrainian refugees, Ukrainian courses for Polish teachers, teaching materials, and digital tools.
  • labour market – professional placement, professional advice, training, internships, independent work. This area also includes places of care for children up to 3 years old;

During our permanence in Warsaw, we also visited two organizations providing support to vulnerable groups:

Punkt pod Parasolem (Food Bank), a non-governmental organization run by the SOS Food Bank in Warsaw and the Kuroniówka Foundation, providing food to children both and adults.

The Polish Women Can Do Everything Foundation, a non-profit organization helping children in difficult life situations. Activities include by supporting foster families, aiding day-care centres in smaller towns, and working to make children’s voices heard in legislation.

In addition to being a chance to experience the reality of the situation on the ground, these provided precious opportunities to interact with Ukrainian refugees, learn more about their day-to-day life in Poland, and their hopes and prospects for the future.

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