“Seniors live alone, and it’s very important for them to have somebody show interest”

Aleksandra, Monika and Agata Connect with older people facing isolation Poland, Lublin

Young Polish volunteers, using their time to support their elders: this is what “Recipe for Help” is all about. Kick-started by the Lublin branch of the Polish Red Cross, the initiative encourages volunteers to call seniors across the region, offering friendly conversations and even additional help depending on each person's needs and requirements. “I feel that there is a great need for that kind of support,” says Aleksandra, a young volunteer. “Seniors can talk with us for hours about their past and values. I think this goes even beyond the COVID-19 situation: seniors like to spend time with younger people and share their experiences.” Older people have been very thankful for the initiative as it demonstrates how a few simple gestures or “ingredients” can strengthen communities. As the local branch of the Polish Red Cross puts it, “a glass of safety, two spoons of knowledge, a pinch of good will, and a few drops of time, make a huge difference during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Thanks to the medical equipment bought with EU funds, we can treat more patients”

Piotr Helps border communities facing health emergencies Poland, Tomaszów Lubelski

Coronavirus knows no borders, but neither does our effort to fight it. In the region around the borders of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, the EU-funded RESCUE project has helped deliver ambulances and ventilators to hospitals so that doctors can fight the coronavirus pandemic across countries and at the EU’s periphery. Piotr Gozdek is in charge of Internal Medicine and Cardiology at a health centre in Tomaszów Lubelski. “As we are close neighbours, our patients, no matter which side of the border they are from, can count on a higher quality of healthcare. The contacts between hospitals allow us to exchange experiences in situations of massive health crises, of which the SARS-Cov2 pandemic is undoubtedly one.” It is not only equipment that is provided: the project offers specialized training courses for 69 physicians, 48 rescuers, and 137 nurses, and preparations are also underway for learning initiatives for 4,500 inhabitants.

“Lending a helping hand and volunteering is an integral part of Scouts’ lives”

Anna Helped distribute over 3000 meals to seniors and people on social assistance Poland, Wieliczka

It doesn’t always take an army of volunteers to do great things. In Wieliczka – a city close to Cracow – a few adult Scouts from The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP) have been helping in any way they could since mid-March. Their life has drastically changed and now revolves around two key activities: providing interesting online activities for younger scouts, and supporting older people and those receiving social assistance. The group has already provided over 3 000 meals, plus protection equipment and grocery deliveries to those in need. “Lending a helping hand and volunteering is an integral part of Scouts’ lives,” says Anna. “The people of Wieliczka can always count on us, Covid-19 or not.

“Helping and supporting those who need it is natural, especially when it comes to people saving the lives of others”

Krzysztof, Gabriela and Dagmara Provide free psychological support to health professionals who need it Poland, Warsaw

Clapping for carers is a great symbolic gesture. But as pressure in hospitals mounts, the initiative also starts reaching its limits. Exhaustion grows, stress mounts and health professionals may start fearing for their own health or that of those close to them. The Stress and Burnout Prevention Centre at Łazarski University in Poland is well aware of this risk. To alleviate it, they launched a free psychological help initiative for doctors, nurses, paramedics and laboratory diagnosticians. Experienced psychologists make themselves available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to provide help on a dedicated phone line. "Through the #HelpingTalking (#PomagamyRozmawiamy), we want to offer real help to all those fighting on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. We use individual conversations to reduce tension and stress, and hopefully help medical staff better deal with the tough situations they encounter every day", the group explains.

“What truly stands out in my mind was the gratitude from our passengers”

Olga Flight attendant in repatriation flights Poland, Warsaw

#LOTdoDomu (Fly home with LOT) was one of the most organisationally and logistically challenging air operations in the history of Polish civil aviation. In 22 days, the Polish national carrier flew to 71 cities in 53 countries all over the world. The operation was prepared in a record-breaking pace to help compatriots who were stranded abroad, far from their families, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "In so many ways, those flights were different from our regular ones. Each one felt more and more like a rescue mission" says Olga, a member of the flight crew in some of those flights. The airline performed 388 flights from six continents, taking passengers from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, USA, Australia and many other countries. In total, LOT brought home over 54 000 Polish citizens.

“We continuously support small businesses by answering their legal questions related to the pandemic”

Małgosia and Katarzyna Provide pro bono legal advice to businesses affected by the pandemic Poland, Poznań

Many entrepreneurs were caught off-guard by COVID-19 and its consequences on their businesses. How should they deal with supply chain disruption? How do force majeure clauses apply to their companies? To help answer such questions, Małgosia, a Polish lawyer, decided to create the Youtube channel “Bringing the law closer to entrepreneurs”. “I provide entrepreneurs with guidance on the latest regulations and the public financial aid they can receive”, she explains. “As COVID-19 regulations in Poland are being constantly updated, we've taken the concept even further with Katarzyna's help". They now focus on sharing legal knowledge through webinars and pro bono phone consultations with small businesses. Topics covered include data protection and the privacy of employees working from home. Information on the initiative is available on the company’s website and Facebook page.