Terra Association Programs in the Age of Coronavirus Outbreak

Our member organisation Terra sent us information about their work in the new circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak through the words of two of their staff.

Marko Mušković, Program assistant on the program to increase social inclusion of the users of the City of Rijeka Emergency Accommodation

As of 1 June 2018, the Terra Association has been implementing a program to increase the social inclusion of beneficiaries of City of Rijeka emergency accommodation, which, as far as field work is concerned, has been paused at the request of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, due to the need to protect our users and the association staff.

But these almost two years of work in three locations covering the necessary accommodation have proven useful now when we are able to provide help not to all, but probably the most vulnerable citizens, in their elementary need – nutrition. Namely, the drastic reduction of the public transport lines necessary for the beneficiaries to go to one of the four points of public kitchen prevented them from exercising their right to use the food service, which for many is the only opportunity to consume freshly prepared food.

Therefore, since 26 March 2020, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Social Welfare of the City of Rijeka, the head of emergency accommodation Mrs. Nevenka Kovačević and the City of Rijeka Red Cross Society, whose staff prepare the food, a hot meal is provided at all three locations. The number of beneficiaries (and thus the meals) is almost every day increasing, and some of them are using this service for the first time.

As a rule, meals are distributed outside, in front of the necessary accommodation. Exceptionally, due to the poor health of individual beneficiaries, meals are delivered to their doorstep. A record is kept of each user: whether or not he has taken over his meal, with the possible note that, if done, the food has been handed over to a neighbour or friend.

On this occasion, we thank our dear beneficiaries for their patience, adherence to social distancing, respect for order in distributing meals process, and readiness to use protective masks and gloves. Also, we have to mention the important role of the Centre for Social Welfare, especially social workers, who through their tireless work have promptly enabled their beneficiaries to exercise this right.

Without diminishing the importance of meeting the basic necessities of life, for our part, we try to additionally “spice up” every bite – with a warm word.

Ilijana Grgić, Harm reduction program assistant

Terra Association Drop-in centre is closed to visitors from March 16 and the injection equipment (needles, syringes, ampoules of distilled water, alcoholic wipes, condoms and lubricants) is distributed through a so-called ”window”. We notice that our clients take more equipment than usual, which indicates the creation of supplies. Thanks to the donation of Neosalon, since Monday we have been sharing reusable masks to the clients of our programme.

Since last week, needle exchange programme has been operating from 11 am to 2 PM. Some of our clients are working, so they cannot come during the specified hours. For them and some others, there is a telephone line available, which they can call and arrange another time of picking up the injection material.

Psychological support is still being provided, but over the telephone. Our colleagues are in regular contact with numerous clients and their family members.

Users still have the opportunity of using the telephone; this is very important for them, to contact their doctor and loved ones. Of course, the telephone and the space around the Drop-in centre are regularly disinfected.

Considering that currently there is no option of using the kitchen, food is being provided for the clients of poorer economic status.

Except the information about the working hours, clients have been introduced to the recommendations of the National civil protection headquarters and Basic measures of protection against the new corona virus for drug users, provided by DPNSEE.

At the Gea Counselling Centre, we are in ongoing online communication with all our beneficiaries through social networks (Facebook and Instagram) and different application platforms like Viber, Whats App, Skype and Zoom. Counselling centre staff members’ phone numbers and e-mails are published and visible on all of our social platforms.