"Safe places" in several locations in the city provide on-site support for people experiencing discrimination and foster awareness-raising among the citizens of Gdansk.
SUPPORT FOR DISCRIMINATED GROUPS
The City of Gdańsk established the Gdańsk Centre for Equal Treatment (GCRT) to meet the needs of people experiencing discrimination. The necessity of a “safe place” became evident in the process of writing the pioneering Equal Treatment Model for Gdańsk report on implementing equal treatment measures. The pilot project, which took place from April to December of 2019, offered comprehensive legal, informational and psychological support to overcome unfair treatment or prejudice-based violence. Since the Polish government does not fulfil its duties and obligations in this matter, the City, together with NGOs, decided to take action to increase the sense of security and support for people from excluded groups.
The city's commissioned partnership of seven non-governmental organisations helped implement the project. It is the first action of its kind in Poland funded by local authorities.
Creating "one-stop shops" was the primary purpose of the project. This vast network of places of support in the city support people experiencing discrimination and violence due to their identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, non-denominationalism, ethnic background, or nationality.
LEGAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSISTANCE
The WAGA Association and the FOSA Aleksandra’s Social Support Foundation established the Centre. In addition to WAGA (involved in the activation of seniors) and FOSA (acting for the benefit of people in a mental crisis), there were five other organisations, with many years of experience working with socially excluded people, involved operating in the Centre.
The service provided almost 800 hours of assistance in the pilot phase. At the same time, 18 support groups held 55 meetings for people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, women experiencing violence, solo-parent fathers, the elderly, LGBTQI+ persons, and persons suffering from discrimination on the grounds of non-denominationalism. Additionally, 42 interventions took place in public spaces, including appeals against hate speech based on ethnic background or race, as well as unclear parking regulations for people with disabilities. A further eight cross-sectoral meetings helped build cooperation between municipal institutions which regularly deal with the various aspects of discrimination in Gdańsk. The service is a much-needed product for Poland, that will need to continue to function in these areas for the foreseeable future.
Diversity is richness and we know that in Gdańsk. Here, for centuries people from different parts of the world, professing different faiths and fostering different cultures, have lived side by side. Being in association with those, who are different from us – who have different views, different sensibilities, different needs – can be difficult. It happens, that prejudice, misunderstandings or hostility appear. That is why Gdańsk Equal Treatment Center was established. It is a safe place, where anyone who gets hurt will find help. Gdańsk is and will remain a city for all, where in the name of freedom and solidarity we help the weak and the unjustly treated.