„Homelessness vs COVID-19” – public health campaign by University of Gdańsk students

University of Gdańsk psychology students got involved in aiding the most disadvantaged during the prevailing epidemiological threat, together with St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society they supported homeless people. They provided information on protective measures against the coronavirus and how to act in case of contracting it. Homeless people often live in isolation, lack access to information, at the same time are high-risk group for COVID-19 contracting. The aforesaid support is therefore absolutely crucial for general public health.

Three students of Psychology of the UG Faculty of Social Sciences: Krzysztof Baranowski, Marta Faron and Alicja Partysza inspired by the “Psychology of health” classes, which had taken place before the announcement of the epidemy,  held by prof. dr hab. Mariola Bidzan, Head of the Division of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology UG, decided to help homeless people during the epidemiological threat. When our students contacted St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society it turned out they were in the process of launching very similar campaign. Both parties decided to join forces and execute the project together.

The students chose to help the homeless because they are a socially excluded group. Homeless people are isolated from information, they lack access to a phone, TV, internet. At the same time they are high-risk group for COVID-19 contracting.

St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society employees prepared brochures with current information regarding the coronavirus, and psychology students, equipped with the necessary protective measures, went out to the streets of Tricity and distributed the materials among homeless people. The brochures included information on ways of contracting the coronavirus, COVID-19 symptoms, protective measures and institutions to contact when suspecting infection.

Students about the public health campaign:

Krzysztof Baranowski

Taking a closer look at the streets today revealed that not everyone has a place to #StayAtHome. Those are people who often woke up in different reality, unable to meet people that had helped them before. St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society know what they are doing. And they do it every day, every week, every year. It is not an easy task but they are able to act in a professional manner, engaging a group of dedicated individuals, open to help and open to other people. That is why anyone willing to make their contribution should so do and support difficult everyday job of the society. This was actually our idea – support those who know what to do best.

Marta Faron

I have been associated with the St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society since 2017 when I took on as a streetworker. I met many wonderful people at work, who due to various difficult life situations ended up on the street. Every meeting, every talk made me realize how important it is not to follow prejudice and stereotypes. There are real tragedies, disastrous coincidences, unrealized dreams, mistakes and errors but also huge potential and a need to be believed in behind homeless people.

Alicja Patrysza

I took part in the project to potentially expand it to my hometown Tczew, where no aid-bus drives around, there is only one warming-up facility and generally there is lack of support for homeless people. They feel abandoned. I know from my own experience that homeless people not only need information but also a simple talk with other human being. I experienced it first-hand when I met them and realized how much they lack and need human contact, which is obviously limited even in normal circumstances.

About the Society:

St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society is an independent Christian organization. Their main goal is to aid homeless and poor people in a spirit of the patron, St. Brother Albert. It is one of the largest NGOs in Poland. The society consists of 2500 members in 67 divisions. Each division tries to provide a shelter, a diner, or another form of aid to homeless and poor people.

Gdańsk Division of St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society was established in May 1989 on the initiative of Tricity residents. It operates three 24h shelters (one of them adapted and accessible to disabled), two night-shelters and one warming-up facility for homeless men.

More information regarding St. Brother Albert’s Aid Society available online

Biuro Rzecznika Prasowego Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego