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55 (150) 2022

Finance

The Mother House – we’ve been helping for 25 years!

By Agnieszka Kłos-Siddiqui, country manager, Provident Polska
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The war in Ukraine turned our world around by 180 degrees. This unprecedented event was a test of empathy and humanity for each of us – and for the business community. At the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Provident's board decided to help refugees who fled the war-torn country. Employees who travelled to the border, transporting refugees around Poland were allowed to exceed their fuel limits. Our volunteers collected food, blankets and clothes, shared their homes and took shifts at the railway stations where refugees were arriving. The entire company was helping and the volunteering actions for Ukrainians could be carried out during working hours. The culmination of the aid activities was the creation of the Mother House, a place where women with children and pregnant women who had to flee Ukraine found shelter. The decision to create the house was taken by the Provident’s board during the first days of the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been helping local communities for 25 years. Our volunteers know very well where and what help is needed. The management board is also involved in volunteering activities. From the beginning of the war in Ukraine, it was obvious to us that we would help. We know that effective help must be systematic and long-term, and these assumptions fit into the idea of the Mother House, which will serve women also after the end of the war.

It took less than a month to find the right building, complete the formalities and refurbish the facility. The House is located in the Białołęka District in Warsaw. It has 400m², four floors, nine bedrooms, five bathrooms, a living room and a dining room, a study room and a common room for smaller children, a laundry and drying room, a boiler room and storage rooms. There is also a playground next to the building. The house is situated in a quiet area and there is a kindergarten and a school as well as a bus stop nearby. The local authority of the Białołęka District got involved in the cooperation and actively participates in the functioning of the Mother House – it offers support in official matters and helps with finding places for children in schools.

All renovation works in the House were carried out by the company’s volunteers themselves. The entire team was divided into project groups responsible for particular stages: equipment purchases, interior design, renovation works. Regular employees and Board members together painted walls, installed plumbing, cleaned, assembled furniture and tidied up the playground in the afternoons and on weekends. A total of 70 volunteers worked in the House for 400 hours and during this time, they:

  • used 126 litres of paint to paint the walls
  • bought 22 lamps, 63 pillows and 80 towels,
  • used 120m² of material for window blinds,
  • assembled 27 beds, including nine bunk beds, as well as ten chests of drawers and three wardrobes.

To furnish the House in line with the less-waste principle, we also used the furniture left over after the renovation of the company's head office: chairs, tables, pouffes and household appliances: a refrigerator, two microwaves and a dishwasher.

The budget for the next edition of the employee volunteering programme Yes! I Help was allocated to prepare the House for the reception of mothers with children. Additional financing was provided by the money collected in the IPF Group, which Provident Polska is a part of, and private sponsors from as far afield as California. Funds were also raised during the Togetherness Day – an online event addressed to all Group employees. This year, during the Togetherness Day, an international charity live concert was held with the participation of employees from various IPF markets. The special guest was Julia Sobucka, a Ukrainian singer. The meeting took place at the end of May as a summary of the company's Volunteering Month. During the concert, money was collected for charity institutions supporting Ukraine. In Poland, the collected funds were donated to the Mother House.

Currently, there are 35 people living in the House – 13 women, three of whom are pregnant, and 22 children. The youngest resident is one month old and the oldest is 48. It’s a place where Ukrainian mothers with children and pregnant women found shelter, decent living conditions and psychological and legal support. Since its opening, 44 people have come and gone. Currently, the House permanently cooperates with the Inna Przestrzeń (‘other space’) foundation, it’s also supported by other NGOs, businesses (also Provident) and individuals. Residents are provided with psychological and medical support and help in job search. The House employs five people: the facility coordinator and four employees – two refugees from Ukraine and two Polish women. Ultimately, after the end of the war, the facility will serve all women in need.

This year, Provident Polska celebrates its 25th anniversary, and during this time, employees and customer advisors have been involved in various aid and volunteering activities. The company has been carrying out the Yes! I help employee volunteering programme since 2006. So far, there have been 28 programme editions. Volunteers completed over 700 projects throughout Poland and the company donated over PLN 2 million to help. Strategic approach to volunteering and implementation of aid activities for 25 years were awarded by the Volunteer Centre. Provident was recognised for enabling employees and customer advisors to take various volunteering activities, organise a professional grant programme and create a workplace where volunteering is a natural element.

We decided to help refugees with small children and those pregnant because we’ve been carrying out activities for women for many years. We were one of the first signatories of the Diversity Charter in Poland. Half of our employees are women. Helping women who had to flee Ukraine is a natural consequence of our approach to the subject of diversity.

Provident supports women in various ways. Power of Provident Women is a programme aimed at understanding the motivations and aspirations of women in the Sales Department. Internal research shows that women in sales are ambitious, they want to be financially independent but at some stage, they aren’t promoted. This results from the stereotypical perception of the role of women, doubts that professional duties can’t be reconciled with private life and declaratively low mobility. The programme is about networking, providing mutual support, empowering women in making everyday decisions and eliminating self-limiting beliefs. An important element of the programme was the Gallup Test, which not only indicates five main talents – strengths, but also shows how to enhance and develop own talents and consciously use them in daily work.

Half of the company’s employees are women; half of the board members are women and the company is led by a woman. With this structure in place, the decision to create the Mother House as a shelter for women in need was natural and was enthusiastically received by the team.

The establishment of the House is a quick response to real needs and confirmation that for 25 years of business activity, sustainable development projects have been an important element of the company's strategy: building a better world through financial inclusion.

 

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