Health
 Slovakia
Project #11871

Depaul Slovakia: Breakfast for the Homeless

by Pontis Foundation
Vetted
Volunteers cleaning the shelter
Volunteers cleaning the shelter

Another interesting period in Depaul has passed. During spring and summer months our clients experienced new opportunities and possibilities. Nighshelter is still fully occupies, even though usually during summer days the capacity is not fully covered.

During spring months we have started with the new integration project – working groups of homeless people who are mainly cleaning the streets. This is considered as a first stage of the integration process. The aim is that the clients will get again  the basic working skills, to cooperate with the members of the team. Besides, there is another carrier counseling (based on the positive feedbacks from the first training and the successful stories of 4 clients who found the job) for the clients of Depaul Slovakia.  At the moment we do cooperate with two city parts on weekly bases.

 Thanks to supporters we are able to help to homeless people more effectively. One of the group that is in danger are elder people. In our shelter there was old lady called Tonka. Our social workers found her at the basement of the block of flats, trying to find out if she has some relatives but with no any success. She was talking to herself, her diagnoses was schisophrenia.  Tonka spent some time in our shelter, while our workers managed for her a place in the retirement house.

Each spring the organizations can join the collection organized by the companies. This year three companies decided to support Depaul by providing especially the clothes that will be offered to the clients of Depaul.

During whole year we are trying to increase the awareness about the homeless people. One way how it can be done is the form of volunteering. During June we hosted 13 volunteers from different companies.  They spent some time at the nighshelter in order to clean and sort out the clothes from dressing room. It serves for our clients in case they need some clothing.

Everything what we are doing could not happen without the support and help of the public. Let us express deep and frank thank you!

Tonka
Tonka
Developing basic working skills
Developing basic working skills
Cleaning the park near the shelter
Cleaning the park near the shelter

Depaul Slovakia Actions

Period January 2016 – April 2016

To begin with, let us thank you for all your support and help to our organization. 
Thanks to your help the homeless people have a chance to make a change in their life.

After a very busy end of year, which on the other hand was full of nice activities, we started 2016 with new campaigns.

In January we tried to give feedback to all companies and donors who participated to Christmas celebration for the homeless people at Depaul.

Based on the knowledge that social media are a very powerful tool to spread the information, we have created the “Album of Help” gathering stories of homeless people to help them find donors for their individual needs. Reactions to this campaign were over our expectations.

  • The very first story was about Štefan, who had had a debt on social insurance and because of that could not apply for the invalidity pension. Within a few days we raised enough money to pay off the debt and now Štefan is already receiving his pension.
  • Another story was about Peter, who unfortunatelay died in the nightshelter. For his family who lives 400 km far from Bratislava the major problem in this sad situation was to transport his body home to bury him. We have raised a request at the “Album of Help” and we were very surprised by the emotions coming from Peter´s death.  After a few weeks we collected enough money to prepare everything that was needed to bury him. Even his family contributed with the amount that was possible for them. We do really appreciate empathy of all donors, on behalf of Peter´s family as well.

That is why in March we had very sad moments in our organization where two of our clients died: Peter (as mentioned before) and Ján. We prepared a nice farewell for them: next to the building of the night shelter there is a small garden with a big cross made by our clients. We invited a priest to celebrate mass in memory of both our clients who passed away. Homeless people who knew them joined Depaul staff as well. One woman moved by a nice atmosphere there left a written message for Depaul team. In the letter she expressed her “… thanks to workers and managers of the nightshelter who are helping … and who are able to make impossible things real”.  And also who: “ … are not (like) politicians, but people with Big Hearths.” Feedbacks like this from people we serve are the best motivation to do our job better. 

Now to continue on a nicer tone, our clients from the Shelter of St. Louise de Marillac try to take advantage of the nicer weather coming from the beginning of spring to go out. Each Thursday they are cleaning a park close to our shelter. Before Easter they also participated in the preparations of the Easter decoration. Gardening is a very useful activity for therapy. Homeless people from our shelter spent a lot of time in the backyard preparing space to plant vegetables. During their free time, social workers organized the chess competition and winners got nice presents. Recently they visited a National Gallery and had the sightseeing tour within the old part of the town. The clients of the shelter are very happy with such kind of the activities. 

 

 

             

Chess competition
Chess competition
Peter and his wooden churches
Peter and his wooden churches
Preparation of the Easter decorations
Preparation of the Easter decorations
Visit of the national gallery
Visit of the national gallery
Mass in memory of our lost friends
Mass in memory of our lost friends
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
 

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Organization Information

Pontis Foundation

Location: Bratislava, Slovakia - Slovakia
Website: http:/​/​www.pontisfoundation.sk
Project Leader:
Marek Chalány
program coordinator for individual philantropy
Bratislava, Slovakia

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