Health
 Slovakia
Project #11871

Depaul Slovakia: Breakfast for the Homeless

by Pontis Foundation
Exterior of our shelter
Exterior of our shelter

Every Autumn we are eagerly waiting for a long term weather prognosis for the coming winter. If winter is cold and long, people on streets suffer. Some of the homeless live in gardens, hats or other “lucrative” places. With freezing season they face a dilemma: “Should I stay and suffer or should I go to a nightshelter”. The problem is that once the place is left empty somebody else might come and occupy it. So many of them decide to rather stay then risk losing good place and leave only if absolutely necessary.

Nightshelter which is better equipped after reconstruction became more attractive even for these “seasonal guests”. Additional attractions for many homeless are working groups. Client can join one of our groups which clean streets and can “earn” food and accommodation for 7 nights. The number of clients using nightshelter every night has increased this winter. At the moment we have capacity 200 places with additional room which might be used in emergency situations. 

On 6th December the nightshelter attracted people from Bratislava who love good music. Together with Pohoda Festival we organized the second year of Doma dobre (Home is good) festival. Our partner Michal Kašcák always tries to create a unique program which is not possible to see anywhere else. This year we had String quartet (SK) playing Albrechts Carolls, Longitall Suite (SK), Midi lidi (CZ) and My Baby (NL) music groups. Atmosphere was fantastic and more than 600 people really enjoyed music, good food and many interesting discussions.

 Among volunteers who helped us during concert was Steven. Always ready to help he also helped us during food collection a month before. He is our client and lives in our shelter. Steven got divorced some time ago. He left the flat with ex-wife and children and moved to a hostel. Later he found a girlfriend and moved to live with her. Last year they separated and he also lost his job. Suddenly his life was in pieces. He became homeless owning nothing just debts. Within few days he contacted Depaul which probably saved him from getting deeper into troubles. We gave him bed at shelter and tried to help him to find a job. In September he participated in a career cancelling course which we organized for our clients. Steven was among five successful clients who got a job soon after the course. As a driver he is delivering goods for a company. He loves his job and boss is happy with him. The shelter is not an easy place for a working person – he works when others are sleeping and wants to sleeps when others are awake. He is eager to leave shelter but cannot. After he pays his debts installments there is not much money left for him to live and pay for hostel. At the moment we are looking for people willing to help him and offer a cheaper rent. And in the meantime he is helping us whenever we need.

During the Christmas time we prepared a special evening for our clients full of music, fantastic food and presents for each client. We could do it thanks to many people who donated money, food, cakes and even gifts. So nobody was alone during this special time. 

Doma dobre concert
Doma dobre concert
Doma dobre (home well) concert
Doma dobre (home well) concert
Christmas at Nightshelter
Christmas at Nightshelter
Distributing Christmas presents at the shelter
Distributing Christmas presents at the shelter
Old and new
Old and new

What is happening at Depaul as days? As days are getting shorter and colder we are busy preparing for the coming winter season. The number of clients in the nightshelter grows and these days we are having 160-165 clients per night. We are sorry that opening new medical clinic for homeless is delayed due to some minor administrative issues and will not be done before winter. The cold paper won again over the human needs.

Last week our old friend and free-lance photographer Lukáš Macek visited us and we are excited to share some of his pictures with you.

After reconstruction the Nightshelter is divided into two parts: a “standard” nightshelter in a new part and low threshold area in the old part of the building which is primarily used for people with alcohol or drug abuse. We hope that different quality of space might be a good motivation for our clients to cooperate and strive for better.

We increased the capacity of the nightshelter from 150 to 200. It is a strange situation for us, because finally we have enough space and rooms but we lack beds. In the past we regularly had 175-200 people sleeping at Nightshelter especially during the winter. But now we need not only 30 beds to fill the capacity, but also 5 emergency beds for both sections. Having both standard and low-threshold sections of the nightshelter feels almost as running two nightshelters in the same building. 

You can see our clients these days cleaning public squares and streets in Bratislava. Each week a group of 10-15 clients moves from nightshelter to a different city area and collects garbage and cleans the space there. For some of them (especially those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse) this is the only work they are able to do, for others it might be a good opportunity and first step to a permanent job. In September we organized a series of Career training for 15 clients in the Nightshelter and within few days after they finished, five of them got a regular job.

We are thrilled to announce the date for the concert at Nightshelter which will be on 6th December starting at 2.p.m. If you have chance don’t miss this great opportunity to visit our place and enjoy fantastic music the same time. 

Newly reconstructed part of the shelter
Newly reconstructed part of the shelter
Low threshold section
Low threshold section
Former state
Former state

In June we had a big celebration day. Our patron Duchess of Norfolk together with our clients, guests and city officials opened the newly renovated North Wing of the Nightshelter St Vincent de Paul. This was a long planned and eagerly expected event. One huge hall packed with 80 beds and just three showers was transformed within few weeks into two floors with 10 rooms, plenty of toilets and enough showers. While capacity of the nightshelter remains the same, quality and scope of our social work will improve. The old part of the nightshelter still waiting for reconstruction will be used as a low threshold section for people with drug and alcohol abuse. We expect that desire to move to a better place might be a strong motivation for some of our clients to take responsibility and fight for better life. Price per night remains 85 cents per night, which includes bed, shower, hot supper and breakfast.

In July we also relocated our Shelter St. Louise de Marillac for sick and elderly homeless people. The shelter was moved from a nice residential area into a new place in downtown, next to the Summer Archbishop palace which houses Slovak government. While enjoying nicer and bigger rooms in this new place some of our clients miss our old garden. They loved so much to work there and enjoyed flowers, trees, bushes and even fruits and vegetables. After few days spent in a new place they looked around and decided to “adopt” a nearby park. They plan to clean it, care for it and enjoy it the same way as they did their old garden.

Thank you for joining us in helping people in need.

The new bedroom
The new bedroom
Bedroom
Bedroom
Opening with our patron, Duchess of Norfolk
Opening with our patron, Duchess of Norfolk
Our patron
Our patron
Bathroom
Bathroom
Christmas concert in the shelter
Christmas concert in the shelter

Thank you for your support. Winter is over and the number of clients at Nightshelter dropped from 170 (average in February) to 140. Busy winter is over and we still remember exciting events happening during the city festival Month for Homeless. For our clients the highlight of the month was concert during which the nightshelter was transformed into a concert hall where more than 600 people enjoyed great music (including Lola Marsh from Israel). These days Nightshelter became a very busy place crowded with clients during the night and workers and building machines during the day. Clients sleep squeezed in one half of the building while the other half is going through reconstruction. We hope that within few weeks builders move out and we (and clients especially) will enjoy new expanded space.

 We at Depaul Slovensko are going through interesting times these days. Besides the struggle which any NGO operating in this part of the world faces every day (i.e. how to survive with limited resources) we were stretched by new challenges. While still faithful to our mission to help people on streets survive by providing food, beds and basic care, we see new opportunities which might help us to expand our services to new areas.

 For a long time we have struggled with consequences of limited access of homeless to health care system. Many homeless have no health insurance, they lack finances or struggle with unsupportive staff at clinics and hospitals. To address this problem we are opening a medical clinic for homeless in next couple of weeks.

 Our Shelter of St. Louise de Marillac which helps primarily sick and handicapped people (with 30 beds) received a notice from the owner of the building that we have to leave by the summer. While still thankful to the owner for those 8 years during which he rented us the building free of charge, we have to find a new place for it. Temporary solution for one year was offered to us by St. Elisabeth University of Health and Social Sciences, but we are looking for permanent solution. We took this situation as opportunity and we plan to open new services which are still missing. Together with new shelter we also plan to start a senior house and a care home for homeless.

 

Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Garden where our clients grow vegetable
Garden where our clients grow vegetable
Hall - sleeping area, the current condition
Hall - sleeping area, the current condition

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.

Exterior showers and toilets
Exterior showers and toilets
The shelter during a day
The shelter during a day

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Organization Information

Pontis Foundation

Location: Bratislava, Slovakia - Slovakia
Website: http:/​/​www.pontisfoundation.sk
Project Leader:
Sandra Stasselova
program coordinator for corporate volunteering and pro bono
Bratislava, Slovakia