Solution 12:55 21 Feb 2022

More than a charity lunch: how the community in Sumy region helps the needy and pensioners

Hard times require us to unite and help each other. In Trostianka, an active community and socially responsible business have found a solution that can be implemented in any part of Ukraine. Moreover, such a solution is needed almost everywhere today.

What is the problem?

This is a challenging time for many Ukrainians. It is especially difficult for people who, for various reasons, found themselves in tough life circumstances. There are more and more people counting every penny, not only in big cities but also in small settlements, where the cost of living has always been much lower. It's sad to see how the fictional story about "half a dumpling," which has long become an Internet meme, has recently become more and more a reality.

What is the solution?

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

There can be many reasons for a crisis: job loss because of coronavirus, low pension, problems with social benefits or subsidies, illness, and lack of family support. The worst thing is when there's not even enough food in the house.

When the state cannot cope, people come to the rescue. Those who don't want to look at growing poverty sedately aren't afraid to start doing good deeds and provide all possible help to those who need it.

Thus, for the first time in the Sumy region, the Trostianka community started to implement the Not Indifferent project on the initiative of responsible business. The project aims to support people in difficult life circumstances, people with disabilities, lonely retirees by treating them to a delicious charity lunch.

How does it work?

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

The initiators of the charity lunches in Trostianka were the city residents. Entrepreneur Myroslav Shylo is the owner of one of the local restaurants. At the beginning of the year, he offered to cook free lunches at his restaurant. The Trostianka City Council and the Center for Social Initiatives of the Trostianka Community helped organize meals.

"There are a lot of people in the Trostianka community who need extra attention and care," said Tetiana Zhohlo, the union's chairperson. "The need for free lunches in the last two years is becoming very important. Prices are rising, pensions are practically non-existent. Many people don't receive any social benefits at all, there are lonely people, there are those who have almost no money left after paying for utilities and medicines for normal nutrition. And we're very happy that thanks to responsible business, communities now have the opportunity to invite those who need it to a full hot dinner."

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

The first charity lunches of the Not Indifferent project brought together more than forty people with a common meal. Professional chefs of the restaurant prepared delicious hot dishes and pastries for them, and volunteers from public organizations of the Union helped to implement the project: they invited people, distributed food, asked about people's problems and needs.

And did they succeed?

Anyone who needs a free lunch from the Not Indifferent can taste it. No certificates or documents are required here. Most of them are low-income and homeless people. Retirees who find it difficult to live on their retirement payments also come to lunch. According to Tatiana Zhohlo, a person who needs help can be seen immediately. You just have to be more attentive.

The problem is that not all elderly people, even with money, can prepare a full dinner. They can only find the strength to steam porridge or cook unpeeled potatoes. And they still want a tasty and at least a normal first course, the same borscht or soup, in the end. For such cases, lunches are also a good solution.

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

Food is distributed weekly, on Thursdays, on the summer terrace of the Kruhlyi Dvir restaurant. Of course, in a cold season, it would be more comfortable indoors, but unfortunately, most of those invited to dinner aren't vaccinated, and the organizers must strictly adhere to epidemiological requirements.

Volunteers also faced another problem. At first, people treated the offer with caution. They asked if they would need to pay something and were ashamed that they had to take something for free. The friendly atmosphere, the friendliness of the restaurant staff, and the unobtrusive attention of the members of the public association helped to melt the ice of mistrust.

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

In addition to distributing lunches, volunteers also actively communicate with people. It is said that those who come to them for lunch are in great need of support and trust, because most of them are not only lonely but also very closed in themselves, in their troubles. Often they don't even know with whom they can share their problems, where to seek help. Or they don't trust anyone.

However, during a joint meal, people gradually open up, tell their stories, share their difficulties. Listening carefully to the conversations of their wards, the activists of the public association began to better understand their other needs.

Some have been sick with covid and have debts for treatment to neighbors; someone walks in light clothes in winter or can't fix their shoes; others can't apply for a subsidy, and someone hasn't eaten fruit for six months. Volunteers take all this "on notice" and assistance to these people becomes more targeted and directed. By the way, there is a free legal aid office in the building next to the Association's office. People who learn about their problems from casual conversations over hot tea with a bun are also sent there for professional help.

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

It's not hot lunches or food. Each of us wants to feel warmth and care. And such charitable initiatives help people feel that there is someone who cares for them and helps them.

Having gained the first experience of organizing the initiative, Not Indifferent plans to move to a new stage, namely, to deliver hot lunches home to bedridden people and those who under various circumstances can not come to the gathering place alone. Volunteers are also looking for like-minded people and invite businesses and all city residents who are ready to support the initiative and help develop the project.

Even more useful solutions!

  • Everyone can join the charity. Nowadays, the dominance of the Internet and social media to find an organization that cares about disadvantaged people in your community, and to join its work, is not a problem. You can take part in the charity event as a volunteer, help with funds, connections, and other assets, as well as spread information.

Більше, ніж благодійний обід: як на Сумщині громада допомагає нужденним та пенсіонерам

  • An interesting solution was found by British footballer Marcus Rashford. The 23-year-old Manchester United striker has launched a national campaign to tackle food poverty. A year ago, he used his Twitter as a bulletin board about institutions that agreed to feed children for free during the school holidays. The athlete came to this after the government refused to provide free lunches to children from poor families during the holidays. Rashford himself received free school meals as a child and therefore understands well those who really need it. The caring football player has more than 5 million followers on Twitter, so the wave of involvement turned out to be very strong. Marcus Rashford also launched the #EndChildFoodPoverty parliamentary petition, which was signed by more than 1.1 million people. Thanks to a large-scale public campaign launched by Marcus, the UK government has announced a funding package to help children with food and overcome food poverty.

But you don't have to be a world-famous footballer to support good deeds and initiate campaigns to help those who need them. Social media can help all users.

  • Currently, many Ukrainian public organizations are involved in charity, inviting responsible businesses to join their projects. Business people themselves are the initiators of good deeds.

Helping others is worthwhile and necessary. But few people wonder why the business itself needs volunteering, and what employees receive from participating in charity events. Psychologists say that volunteering increases solidarity, helps to overcome barriers between employees, and builds horizontal relationships. Experts in organizational behavior have long proven that informal relationships and cohesion affect the quality of work. In addition, volunteering is very helpful for the integration of newcomers, participation in volunteering erases the status boundaries between employees and increases trust in managers. Also, participation in initiatives often provides additional opportunities for self-realization of employees, a sense of demand. And for some it even becomes a career elevator, allowing you to discover yourself.

So don't be afraid to do good. Take a step towards people and feel real joy from sincere words of gratitude in return.


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