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DAY 40, BUS 2: Wrocław

3 June 2018

Our first full day in Poland started with a very well attended seminar. The actual level of minimum income payment is very low, but the picture has been totally changed with the introduction of the 500 złoty payment for families with two children and extra 500 złoty for each additional child. This has clearly brought some advantages but has also created inequalities, for example generally a family with one child doesn’t receive this payment (which impacts  particularly on single parents), while a bank manager with three children will receive the payment. This inequality is also reflected in care payments with a large difference between the payment allowed for care for a disabled member of the family as distinct from care for an elderly family member.

What emerged was that the minimum income payments and the access to services is a very fragmented picture. It seemed hard, even for those providing the services, to put all the pieces of the jig saw together. What was encouraging was the positive attitude towards the people who need access to minimum income assistance from the leadership in the city social services department. A personal testimony of a recipient of minimum income assistance brought home clearly that it is not just the money that is important but for her it was also the supportive contact she had from the staff in the service that helped her through a difficult time in her life.

In the afternoon we visited a project called Miserart which combined ecological aspects (recycling), social aspects (working with homeless people) and art (creating multi-media art with the assistance of various artists) to give people the space to grow as persons and to overcome stereotypes about homeless people.  The hope is that this project by changing the image of homeless people can also influence how other homeless services are developed and delivered.

The third aspect of the programme for the day  was to take part in a picnic as part of the ‘Festival of Families’. This had to be abandoned as the intense heat finally gave way to monsoon like rain for an hour. The organisers quickly rescheduled.  We visited what was an old tram depot where now an NGO in cooperation with the city is trying to regenerate the area with a mixture of art, gardening, and social enterprise projects. They also engage in commercial activities to raise funds for other parts of their project. There was an important presence of volunteers from the European Volunteer Service who supported the work of this NGO.