Yesterday - 26th January 2015 was very important day for our shelter. The major reconstruction of the building St. Vincent de Paul building has begun. Tyhe building is the biggest shelter for homeless people in Slovakia and it has been working non-stop since 2006. So far we offered 380,258 overnight stays for 4,553 homeless people.
We started the recontruction to be able to provide more space for homeless people. Thanks to you we can help on daily basis many people. But still the capacity of our building is limited and many homeless people are forced to sleep on the streets.
The reconstruction will split the space into two floors with sanitation and sleeping area. We will increase the quiality of our services and improve conditions for the work with people with special needs.
Thank you for your help. It is saving lives. Right now.
We want to express our big Thank you to all donors who supported our project on Global Giving. The gift will be used for preparing food for clients in nightshelter and two shelters.
Since 2006 we serve people in need every day and night with no interruption. Nothing, even the planned reconstruction will not close our nightshelter’s door and stops us from providing shelter for people in need. There is no other place in Bratislava which would offer similar services for clients with no additional conditions to enter. At the moment we help daily 180-210 clients in our nightshelter and two shelters.
Our clients from shelter St. Louise enjoyed sunny days of the early autumn which made gardening very pleasant and rewarding. Vegetables and fruits harvested from the garden were used and shared with other clients and joy was multiplied. Clients at Nightshelter celebrated the World Bread Day in October with the biggest loaf of bread ever made in Slovakia. The bread was made in Nitra’s bakery and was 2,29m long, 0,8m wide with weight 36kg. It only took one supper at nightshelter to consume it.
Since October we started a Working Groups pilot project focused primarily on our clients from nightshelter. Two times a group of 20 people collected garbage and cleaned streets in a nearby area. The goal is to motivate our clients, activate them in a meaningful work and give them opportunity to pre-pay for our services and gain other benefits. We were encouraged to see many clients interested in this project and enjoying the activity. As a secret surprise we prepared for them a special food served on nice china with white tablecloths. They just loved it. It was exciting start, but we need a longer period for proper evaluation. The plan is to expand this activity into a work agency or social business which would generate jobs for our clients and provide space for our social workers to deal with their debts and other work problems.
Big thanks to all our donors and supporters from Global Giving.
Your gifts help us provide food for our clients. Even if we are still in the middle of the summer, which is usually a low peak season for our nightshelter, we serve food and provide beds for about 120 homeless every night. Together with those 55 clients who stay in our shelters, we feed every day up to 200 people. But helping people on streets to survive is just the first step. We also try to help them whatever their needs are: to get medical help, to deal with state institutions, look for jobs or accommodation, get in contacts with family, deal with debts or to find pension house or other institutions suitable for them.
To motivate clients and keep them active we try to get them involved in manual work. As a part of the social program we clean area near our projects, we organize art workshops and we also planted two gardens. Especially vegetable garden at St. Louise shelter is very fruitful and successful. Janko never worked in the garden before, but once he started he got immediately caught. Every day he can be seen in the garden: planting, watering, weeding, planning new fields or harvesting vegetables. “I am so happy to see how everything grows and blossoms. And if I see other people enjoying fresh fruit and vegetables I am really excited. … Without garden you just stay in bed and do nothing. But once you have work you can enjoy, you are happy and you have something to live for. ”
Winter is always the most challenging period of the year for people living on streets. During the winter all our services are filled to the capacity. This 2013/2014 winter was mild and dry which resulted in average 150-160 people per night in the nightshelter, which is less than during the cold winter. Those who live on streets usually try to keep their good places occupied and are not willing to risk losing them only until it is really necessary. Yes, life on street might be really harsh.
Every year during the Christmas season we try to prepare something special for our clients. With the help of our sponsors we served in all our projects typical Christmas meals and every client got a personal Christmas gift. During the week after Christmas when all shops and malls were closed and people living on streets have no chance to get warm, we opened our nightshelter during the whole day. We installed big heaters, served food, hot tea and cakes donated to us and we showed films. Our clients were really excited.
Some of our clients are really creative and gifted. For example Pavel from St. Louisie shelter developed a technology to fit a roof for his model houses from fir cones. The whole November and December a group of clients in shelter worked hard to help Pavel to produce enough “Betlehems” for Christmas. “Betlehem” is a typical Slovak folk art decoration for Christmas season. Before Christmas they sold “Betlehems” on streets and Pavel earned enough income to cover his trip to eastern Slovakia. After many years he was able to spend Christmas with his family.
Depaul Slovakia operates four projects for people sleeping rough in Bratislava. The biggest one is
low-threshold Night Shelter St. Vincent de Paul which provides beds, food, medical first aid, clothes and social assistance for up to 175 homeless people. We also accept clients which were refused from other shelters due to use of alcohol, missing documents and other problems. We also run two shelters with capacity 55 beds together: Shelters St. Louise de Marillac for sick people and Shelter St. Vincent for people who actively cooperate in solving their situation. Together with St. Elisabeth University of Health and Social Sciences we operate St. Elisabeth drop-in centre which is primarily aimed to help homeless people who do not use any of the existing institutions helping homeless.
The beginning of 2013 was very cold and all our shelters were full. Long winter kept our staff very busy with all projects filled to capacity. On 27th March we even had 194 registered clients in nightshelter, which is maximum clients per night since the opening of the shelter in 2006.
Between February and August of this year we have provided 29 205 beds in the night Shelter (average 139 clients per night), 10 383 stays in both shelters and 1 100 assistances in drop-in centre.
Our primary goal is to help clients survive rough conditions on streets, but we are also trying to keep our clients active and help them move back to a normal life. To accomplish that we work individually with clients and our social workers help them to deal with issues which are keeping them on streets. For clients in shelters we organise regular workshops (creative art or music) and work therapies. In June Depaul theatre group prepared new theatre performance Spoved II (Confession II) which was presented at Malá scéna theatre. Clients planted two gardens (at St. Vincent and at St. Louise shelters) and have grown vegetables which were later used for preparing food.
At the end of 2012 we lost one of our significant donors who was regularly donating food / bread for our services. Facing the shortage of resources we have asked public for a food collection which started at the beginning of February. Thanks to a very positive feedback and great generosity of people we have gathered more than 5 tons of food, and enough food tickets and money which made up missing portion from our lost donor. Some of our donors started regular contribution to cover 4 100 Euro we need every month for providing food for all our clients.
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program coordinator for corporate volunteering and pro bono