While democracy returned to Poland in 1989, the growth of the non-governmental sector and volunteer associations has lagged behind those in the West. When I read this observation, I reflected on my own upbringing in Ireland where amateur associations such as sports clubs, charity organisations and local associations play a very vital role in people’s lives. This is rooted in the Irish revival movement of the 19th century, the role of Christian social engagement and the impact of US initiatives returning to Ireland from emigrant communities.
While this lag still remains, I have seen over my 25 years of acquaintance with Poland that there have been significant initiatives. The work of WOŚP (the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) has inspired many young people; the recent response of the Polish population in accommodating and assisting over three million displaced people from Ukraine and the growth of CSR initiatives among the business sector shows that there is a general supportive attitude towards such activity.
As a school we usually combine two elements together; our employees and our general school community. Our main efforts focus on global issues but concentrate on local circumstances. We have supported fundraising and volunteerism with Smile Warsaw, we have collected litter using the Litterati App, we have highlighted our commitment to respect and tolerance through our support of Polin Daffodil Day. Our school focuses on our values of Respect, Nobility, Consideration, Cooperation and Courage and each week we focus on an aspect of these values. We may look at Equality for women and minorities under the value of Respect. We may celebrate significant days in British, Polish and World History under Nobility. We may reflect on injustices under consideration. We implement new ecological initiatives under a combination of the above to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our waste.
Most of all we see the need to develop a responsibility and a thoughtfulness in our community to these significant issues.
We also see how enterprises and businesses have become more attuned to such issues and have developed an awareness of how they can significantly contribute to furthering such social responsibility. I like to think that our graduates, as future employees and/or entrepreneurs, will bring such a sensitivity and literacy to their economic activity and choice of employer.