Like most people, we were absolutely shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating war launched by Russia against Ukraine and its people. Our very first concern was to take care of the safety of our Ukrainian colleagues in the region. However, we watched in horror every day as the ongoing conflict deprived hundreds and thousands of innocent people of their homes. Together with my colleagues, we worked hard to find the best way in which we could help these people
We have produced 120 beds for Ukrainian refugees
Together for Ukraine
Together with a long-term client we quickly found the answer. Česká spořitelna had vacant premises and we had a production line and a group of colleagues ready to work. This is how the SIMI project started. Within two weeks, Česká spořitelna, in cooperation with the Association for Integration and Migration (SIMI), turned these premises into fully-fledged living quarters with separate rooms and a dining room.
So we got down to work and adapted our factory to the production of beds. In recent weeks, the whole company has lived with the project. Along with our Ukrainian colleagues, for whom the whole situation was all the more emotional, we made 120 beds for refugees in two weeks. In addition, we helped with the construction modifications and provided additional items, including mattresses. We also thank the company Stěhování Podrazil, which provided us with transport at its own expense and helped with the installation.
From one day to the next, Ukrainian families lost their homes along with almost all their worldly possessions. Few people could have imagined such a situation just a few weeks ago. As a furniture manufacturer, we felt an obligation to help. In addition, some of our colleagues come from Ukraine. We did what we do best. They set to work and started making beds instead of office desks. We thank Česká spořitelna for inviting us to join the project. We are currently working together on further plans to help.
The hostel is now ready to provide a temporary home for up to 30 families. Thanks to this capacity, displaced families will be able to live together. In addition to the accommodation, there is also a separate kitchen with dining room, and a team of experienced staff to help clients to adapt to the new environment, find work, communicate with the authorities and arrange school attendance. The operation of the centre is financed jointly by Česká spořitelna, the Česká spořitelna Foundation and Buřinka.
In cooperation with our partners, our priority is to create medium-term community housing for refugees from Ukraine. The integration process is accompanied by a team of social and “key workers” (native speakers with a knowledge of Czech and their own migration experience) who work with each refugee individually. They work together on the whole integration process leading to leaving the facility for long-term independent living, finding work or placing children in educational institutions. Operating our “own” accommodation is valuable for our future work, because we know that we can pass on the experience gained to other actors who are considering launching such a service, and also influence the setting of integration measures at the state and local government level, where direct practical experience is very welcome.
The idea of accommodating Ukrainian refugees directly on the Česká spořitelna premises arose very spontaneously only a few days after the beginning of the Russian aggression. The management of the Foundation and Spořitelna approved the necessary budget in a matter of days, and over the following four weeks, two floors of one of Česká spořitelna’s buildings were converted into an accommodation centre. We expect that over the next 12 months, several hundred refugees will benefit from the accommodation in the centre. We will provide these refugees, in cooperation with our partners from SIMI, not only decent accommodation and food, but above all, all necessary social care services. We believe that the successful integration of Ukrainian refugees can contribute to the prosperity of the whole Czech Republic.
How did it all come about
In addition, employees of the HR Department, in cooperation with the People in Need Foundation, contributed by purchasing rescue backpacks. We are also negotiating with other organisations, and in the near future we will launch our own employee collection fund, which colleagues across the entire company are helping to organise.