INISE presents at a conference in Ethiopia

On 28 – 31 January, representatives of INISE: Baiba Dhidha Mjidho, Magdalena Chwarscianek and Ewa Sadowska took part in a conference on the Milenium Development Goes and Africa’s development organised by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy ( ICD ) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference focused on detailed analises of the geo-political, economic and social situation in selected African countries in relation to the implementation of Milenium Development Goals as well as the prospects for further development after 2015. 

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Best wishes

Leszek, leader at BarkaIE celebrated his 60th birthday on January, the 10th . There was birthday cake, singing Polish ‘Sto lat’ and lots of congratulations to honour his day.

Leszek Best wishes

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Barka in Dutch daily paper “Trouw”

The Dutch daily , ‘Trouw’ published an article about Barka’s work for the homeless migrants from Poland and other Middle and Eastern European countries in Holland, Great Britain and Ireland. The Trouw journalist visited Barka Network programmes around Poznan in Poland, among them: a community home in Posadówek, where he spoke to persons, who returned to Poland after being homeless in Holland and in the UK.

Polish people find shelter in the homeland
Ekke Overbeek,
Posadowek/Poznan

Polish organization Barka helps in the big Dutch cities the homeless immigrants to return home. Polish people, who have nowhere to go, can join community homes in Poland. Like the one in Posadowek, about 40 km from Poznan.

The men sit silently around the table. Stasiek says: ‘The best spot for the night is at the IJ-riverside in Amsterdam North. Take the ferry behind the station and there will always be an empty boat.Usually the owners do not make trouble’. Yet, sometimes they do. ‘Once two guys came to chase me away. Just as I wanted to go on the pier, they said: No, along there. They pointed to the water.’ I walked round in wet clothes for three days. ‘It was cold, very cold’.

Bad luck put a stop to Stasiek’s career as a handy-man in the Netherlands. ‘What happened, I do not know. It drizzled and the last thing I saw was a white truck. After three days I recovered in the hospital.’ His knee was ruined. Money run out and he ended up on the street.

After two and a half years of being homeless he got the offer to return to Poland. ‘I had thought I was on my own in this world. I could not imagine, that there was something like a shelter,’ says Stasiek, who has never heard about Barka.

This shelter is in Posadowek, it is a former farm standing in bare meadows. Stasiek is helping on a daily basis in the kitchen of the community and he works in a second-hand shop. ‘Sometimes I long for going back to Amsterdam. But here, I got the peace and the time to think how it will be.’ Recently he has got his welder certificate. ‘I think I will try to obtain the LGV driving licence. You never know what can be useful in your life.’

The group of people like Stasiek, who returned to Poland, is fairly new. In 2007 Barka UK was established, shortly after that Barka IE. Since then, more than 2000 Polish citizens who were stranded on the Isles, returned. Among the 150 East-Europeans, whom Barka assisted in the Netherlands, 110 were Poles. Two third of them was able to go back to their homes. Others got sheltered in the communities, like Posadowek.

In the early 90s there wasn’t any large scale labour migration to Western Europe. In Poland, there was enough misery. Big governmental enterprises went bankrupt. Thousands had nothing. Barka was established for them. Barka means literally ‘barge’ figuratively ‘lifeboat’.

‘Everybody said that my parents went mad’, says Maria Sadowska. She was too little to remember how her parents, in the middle of the winter, with a group of outcasts founded the first living community; two high-born university graduates with toddlers, in a house full of hardened criminals, ex-prostitutes and homeless. ‘All sins under one roof.’

But the Sadowski’s were tough fellows. Twenty years later, their life work has developed into a network of social work places, living communities and reintegration projects. ‘From the point, that Poland joined the EU, the financing became much easier’ says Maria in the center for social integration in Poznan. The cabinet is full of tributes: photo of Sadowski and the Polish president, the Ford Foundation Award, a charter from Pope John Paul II.

Most of the Polish have heard about Barka. ‘I remember seeing a story about Barka on TV’, says Jozek. ‘But I have never thought I would end up here.’ His daughter evicted him, just after his girlfriend died. ‘Like disused furniture’ he concludes bitter. Now he is the leader of the community in Posadowek. He carefully peels organic apples from own breed and places the pieces in the bowl. ‘It is not exactly like in a family. But still, it is our home.’

Extension of Reconnection and Reintegration Initiative with Barka

Dublin Region Homeless Executive Newsletter

Initiative supports 27 Eastern European migrants to return home and exit homelessness

A joint initiative between Dublin City Council (DCC), Mendicity Institution (Charitable Trust) and Barka (Polish NGO) has successfully reconnected 27 Eastern European migrants who were formerly homeless back to their homeland.

The initiative was set up in January 2012 and the Steering Group for teh Initiative set a target of reconnecting and reintegrating 20 individuals back home, this was exceeded and the initiative has been extended for a further six months.

The initiative emerged as a significant and timely next step from the decision to provide designated emergency accommodation at Charlemont St. (and subsequently North Frederick St.) for non Irish nationals in July 2011, and to provide the opportunity for an agreed interagency cooperation to be established between DCC, Crosscare, Depaul Ireland, and the New Communities Unit, Department of Social Protection(DSP), which is focused on a target group of migrants consistently presenting to homeless services. The role and visibility of the Mendicity Institution Day Centre was equally as important as DCC, as many of the residents of North Frederick Street access meals and support and this provides a very positive environment for engagement from Barka.

The success of the initiative comes down to the engagement with project ‚leaders’ from Barka. These are individuals who have experienced hardship themselves and have spent a period of their lives homeless and rough sleeping. The nature of the contact is time intensive, as it requires building trust and confidence with each individual to influence consideration to the reconnection option. The Barka team had over 2,500 contacts with over 60 individuals in the term of the six month pilot programme.

Within the current regulatory context, DCC acts as the provider of ‚last resort’ to those who have lost employment and who do not qualify for welfare support. This combined with the complexity of personal issues that individuals are experiencing, presents a significant challenge to the local authority and other statutory and voluntary services to be in a position to provide meaningful solutions.

Providing stabilised accommodation provided for the first time the ability to establish a detailed profile of the migrant group and their experience in homelessness. It was effective in compiling detailed information on the majority of residents with their consent, establishing status and entitlements and referrals to DSP for further action and decision. There were positive outcomes for a number of residents in this regard, which enabled further supported intervention towards an exit from homelessness.

Source: Dublin Region Homeless Executive Newsletter

Interviews with media

On the 25th and 26th of March two interviews with Barka IE representatives were held. The first interview was for the national Irish newspaper and a second for the Irish radio station.

Both interviews were with regards to the problem of homelessness of Eastern European migrants in Ireland, the economic crisis and the general lack of jobs.

The journalists asked about the work of Barka IE and other Barka’s branches across Europe. There was a question about the work of Barka Leaders and Assistants, level of addictions of the homeless Poles, the social situation of homeless A10 migrants in Ireland, the Reconnections Project to the home countries, integration and vocational training programmes within the Barka Network and about the forms of active social policy in Poland.
The copies of these interviewes will be posted on Barka websites.

polski express: “Wskazujemy nową perspektywę”

Na portalu polskiexpress.ie ukazał się artykuł poświęcony pracy Fundacji Barka w Irlandii:

„O trudnym powrocie do godności, wzajemnej pomocy oraz nowym centrum wsparcia osób bezdomnych – z Dagmarą Szlandrowicz z Fundacji BARKA, rozmawiała Anna Paś.

– Fundacja Pomocy Wzajemnej „Barka” powstała w 1989 roku w odpowiedzi na rosnące problemy społeczne okresu transformacji. Dziś działacie nie tylko w Polsce, ale prowadzicie działalność pomocową w Wielkiej Brytanii, Niemczech, w Afryce. Jakie cele przeświecają Waszej działalności?

Fundacja Barka powstała w ’89 roku we Władysławowie pod Poznaniem, gdzie został założony pierwszy dom wspólnoty Barka. Od tego czasu działalność Fundacji rzeczywiście bardzo się poszerzyła i wychodzi już szeroko poza granice nie tylko Wielkopolski, ale i Europy. Celem Barki od samego początku była wzajemna pomoc. I tę wzajemność należy bardzo mocno podkreślić. Nie myślę tu tylko o tym, że pomagając sami coś otrzymujemy, wzrastamy, uczymy się, stajemy się odpowiedzialni. Wzajemność to także przekazywanie tej pomocy innym. Kto sam doświadczył trudności, problemów i wsparcia w poradzeniu sobie z nimi, ten najlepiej pomoże innym.

– Działalność Fundacji Barka opiera się na prostym, a skutecznym pomyśle: aby pomóc drugiemu człowiekowi, musimy sprawić, by poczuł się ważny i potrzebny. Dlaczego sama pomoc bezdomnym nie wystarczy, a zachęcacie ich do pracy w Waszych ośrodkach, na farmie, wśród innych potrzebujących?

Nie zachęcamy. To, że część osób mieszkających we wspólnotach – domach Barki, zostaje w nich na dłużej, mimo że mogliby z powodzeniem żyć i pracować samodzielnie, wynika zawsze z ich chęci albo raczej potrzeby. Stają się po pewnym czasie, liderami – biorą odpowiedzialność za poszczególne działania, prowadzą przedsiębiorstwa społeczne, uczą innych, tworzą grupy wsparcia, pracują w Barkach w Londynie, Hamburgu, Utrechcie, Hadze czy Dublinie. Czasami, jak sami mówią, spłacają swój „dług” wdzięczności, jaki mają wobec tych, którzy im kiedyś pomogli.

– W Irlandii, podobnie jak w Wielkiej Brytanii, lokalne władze oraz organizacje pomocowe w niewielkim stopniu radzą sobie z problemem bezdomności wśród obcokrajowców. Jak duża jest skala tego problemu i dlaczego pomoc Barki okazała się dla dublińskiego ratusza niezbędna?

Bezdomność w obcym kraju to zwykle także problem uzależnienia, braku pracy, zerwanych kontaktów z rodziną, trudności w porozumiewaniu się i lęku o jutro. Nie wierzmy w to, że ktokolwiek mógł w sposób samodzielny wybrać bezdomność jako styl życia. Jest to zbiór różnych okoliczności, nieszczęśliwych przypadków, albo pewnych skłonności. Tymczasem każdy człowiek powinien mieć możliwość wyboru. Powinien wiedzieć, że poza tym życiem, które prowadzi ma jeszcze inne możliwości. I tę perspektywę trzeba mu pokazać.

Barka została zaproszona przez irlandzką organizacje charytatywną Mendicity Institution, która w Dublinie prowadzi centrum dzienne, wydające codziennie kilkadziesiąt posiłków dla potrzebujących. To właśnie Mendicity, bezradne wobec rzeszy bezdomnych z krajów Europy Wschodniej, jako pierwsze zaalarmowało Barkę. Samorząd Dublina również uznał, że pomoc Barki jest niezbędna.

 – Jak praca Barki i Waszych liderów wyglądać będzie w Dublinie na co dzień?

Będziemy pracować codziennie w centrum, o którym mówiłam, a także wieczorami w hostelu dla bezdomnych migrantów.

– Problem bezdomności jest problemem złożonym, często brak dachu nad głową to efekt końcowy poważniejszych problemów, jak alkoholizm, narkomania, kłopoty z prawem… Jakiego rodzaju pomoc i wsparcie oferuje Barka w Dublinie?

Można nas znaleźć w Centrum Mendicity, przy Island Street. Napisać maila: Dagmara.szlandrowicz@barka.org.pl lub zadzwonić do nas: 0868 396 271.

Barka dla osób w najskrajniejszych sytuacjach, organizować będzie powrót do kraju, do Barki, lub do podobnych organizacji. Dla tych, którzy są w stanie poradzić sobie w Dublinie, zorganizujemy Centrum Ekonomii Społecznej, pomagające w pozyskaniu i utrzymaniu zatrudnienia.

Rozmawiała: Anna Paś