It was another difficult year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. A year in which, due to a pandemic, most of our activities took place in virtual space. In Together-Razem, we had to adapt many protocols and policies to the new pandemic reality. Nevertheless, thanks to the organization’s ability to adapt and implement new procedures, it was possible to provide services for Polish and Eastern Europeans. During the year, we received a huge number: 5,089 in total, of e-mails, phone calls, and inquiries. Throughout the year, 1,047 interventions were performed (i.e. activities performed for our clients, advocacy, letters, phone calls, therapy sessions).
It all took a lot of effort and resilience on the part of our small team. A huge thank you to everyone involved. The pace of updating, the need to adapt to new, very dynamically changing circumstances require great flexibility, resistance to stress, dedication, and a huge amount of work. Everyone involved in our projects knows that this is no ordinary work.
In 2021, we celebrated our 15th anniversary. November was a month of memories and a modest celebration of our anniversary. We do not forget about all those who have volunteered for the Centre for 15 years. Thank you very much.
In this area, due to the level 5 restrictions, we carried out our tasks via the Internet and our specially created websites such as TeleAsysta and PoradniaOnline.
TeleAsysta is a website in which a person seeking advice could book a video meeting with our adviser to talk to him live, presenting his problem.
PoradniaOnline is a website that has been operating since 2015, where you can describe your difficulty in detail and then, using the created system, send it along with attachments for consideration by our social advisor.
The online advice formula made it possible for many people from all over Ireland to use this free service in Polish.
In the period of reduced restrictions, our advisor met with elderly people who, due to difficulties in using online advice, could visit us in the office, but the number of these meetings was very limited.
During the year, we provided small paid and free translations for our clients. Orders were placed online, and for Together-Razem, the projects were carried out by a professional translator
In the field of advice services were provided to a total of 306 of our compatriots living in Ireland.
In the field of mental health, all therapeutic services were delivered online. We managed to launch a new program for people with a gambling problem and their families called “You are not Alone”. The program aimed at the Polish and Romanian community was very popular, as six therapy sessions were completely free. The project also included free webinars, LiveTalks, and a support group for people with substance and gambling disorder. We are glad that we have expanded our offer in this way to the constantly growing community of Romanian migrants in Ireland.
Cooperation with the Romanian association from Cork also resulted in another joint project supported by the Cork City Hall, the main purpose of which was to inform about current government changes regarding COVID-19. As part of the project, information articles and video clips were created, which can be found on our profile on Youtube.
In 2021, we supported more than 242 people of Polish and Romanian nationals living in Ireland.
The Razem Academy is our pride, and we are proud to see children born here in Ireland speaking and writing in Polish. And the parents of these children can also be proud.
After a difficult time, when we were unable to conduct Polish language lessons in a stationary environment due to the lockdown, it was only in February 2021 that we returned to the school in Ballincollig with new child safety protocols. The Midleton school was online until June, and it was only in September that the authorities of the school from which we rent the buildings allowed the Together Academy to return to full-time classes
We would like to thank all parents for their trust in surviving this difficult time with us and for staying with us. Warm words are also due to teachers who work online first and then return to their desks for their commitment.
The experience gained while conducting online learning and financial support from the winning ReThink Ireland award allowed us to invest in a new formula and create an educational platform for teaching children online. Scenarios, live lessons, webinars are all in one package at www.polskaszkolaonline.ie. The project is developmental and started in September 2021.
In 2021, we managed to organize three remote English courses. Teaching took place at two language levels: Basic Plus and Intermediate. This new formula allows people from all over Ireland to improve their language skills.
It is the heart of the entire organization, beating with activity. The meetings of the group every Saturday were held partly remotely, some outside, but also at our base when the restrictions were relaxed. They were always held in compliance with all safety rules.
The group carried out two projects. Their completed the “I speak Polish” project learning about the education of bilingual children and volunteering and implemented the “Safe on the Web” project. Seniors learned about how to behave on the Internet to navigate safely.
In the area of education, 197 adults and children received support.
In this area, we developed cooperation with Forum Polonia, also a convention of members of the grouping took place in Cork. We also established cooperation with the Sexual Health Centre. At the end of the year, we undertook cooperation with the HSE in the field of public health. We maintained very valuable relations with our diplomatic mission, which is our most important partner, and the Polish Community Association and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland.
Among Irish groups, we value new friends from the Romanian Association in Cork and the old and proven ones, i.e. Saint Vincent de Paul, Cork City Partnership, Cork Migrant Centre, Community Foundation for Ireland and finally the City Hall in Cork.
As every year, traditionally, on November 11, we hoisted the Polish flag onto the masts at the City Hall. At night, to honour this important day for Polish, the Town Hall was illuminated in white and red. The Mayor of Cork greeted the Polish community on our holiday. On Independence Day, we also organized a meeting with the Consul of the Republic of Poland at the Office. Our Christmas campaign “Share Christmas Joy” took place once again and before Christmas, the packages were delivered to families in need.
We also published another three magazines “PoPolsku” and became the main patron of a new and valuable portal publishing reliable information under the name “InIreland.pl”
It was a challenging year for the organization. Therefore, we would like to thank all our partners, thanks to whom we were able to implement our projects in 2021, our employees and volunteers without whom we would not be able to operate and, above all, the users of our websites.
We want to improve them for you, to improve the situation of Polish in Ireland and to promote a positive image of Poland in Ireland.
Below we present a short calendar of events that we organized from January 2021 to December 2021.
● Virtual Open Days – a series of meetings with the Together-Razem team, the Razem Academy school and the Active Seniors Together group
● ONLINE English courses have started
● Participation in the National Conference on Integration in Ireland organized by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
● The “Further Recovery Program” therapeutic program has started for people addicted to alcohol, other psychoactive substances, and gambling, who maintain abstinence and have completed the basic program
● Jurek Owsiak promoted the Together Academy and announced an educational rescue aid program.
● Due to travel restrictions to Poland, we launched COVID-19 Travel Info Point, in which we explained the rules of necessary travel
● Work has started on a series of video information on travel restrictions and COVID-19 matters.
● In cooperation with TUSLA and the Romanian Association of Cork, we have prepared an information leaflet and articles on recognizing the symptoms of child abuse, which may be useful to anyone who is close to the child’s welfare.
● A series of educational meetings entitled “Na lajvie z seniami” started, during which topics related to pensions, MyGovID account, PRSI contributions, and care allowances were discussed
● More ONLINE English courses have started
● Children from our Polish school, the Together Academy cleaned the beaches as part of the National Spring Clean campaign
● A new therapeutic project for the Polish and Romanian community “You are not alone” has been launched
As part of the “You are not alone” project, the following are offered:
-Free psychotherapy in Polish and Romanian in ONLINE mode
-Free consultations in terms of addiction in Polish ONLINE
-Free open support group for addicts ONLINE
-Cycle of mental health webinars
● A webinar as part of the National Volunteering Week took place
● LiveTalk was held with an addiction therapist and founder of the Inspiratornia Foundation on functional addictions and gambling
● There was a webinar entitled A family with an addiction problem
● We have started an information project involving the production of video advice and articles on COVID-19 in Polish.
● There was a webinar entitled “Co-addiction – crazy dance”
● The “Safe in the network” program for seniors has been launched
● There was a LiveTalk with a psychotherapist entitled “Stress, how to deal with it”
● There was a two-day trip for seniors
● The last modules of the “I speak Polish” project were carried out under the name “Fairy tales from the school library” seniors read fairy tales for children live
● Beginning of the school year at the Together Academy schools in Ballincollig and Midleton
● A new remote school project www.PolskaSzkola.Online.ie has been launched
● “Emotions – what they are and how to deal with them” webinar
● New Online English courses have also started
● A webinar was held as part of the Polish Bilingual Day
● There was a webinar in Romanian “In the labyrinth of co-addiction” led by our therapist of Romanian nationality
● There were celebrations on the 15th anniversary of Together-Razem with a series of accompanying events and the visit of Ambassador Anna Sochańska
● The cycle of 6 online therapeutic workshops “Relationship communication” has started
● The Together for Independence project was held on independence
● Attend Cork City’s Remembrance Day celebrations
● Publishing the magazine “PoPolsku”
● Completion of the “Safe in the network” project
● Starting cooperation with the Sexual Health Center
● Production of the brochure “Social support in a nutshell”
● Publishing school magazine the “Sowa” by Together Academy
● The work of an external consultant on measuring the results of Together-Razem
● “Share Christmas Joy” campaign, packages for Polish families