Home Again: a story from Poland

Christopher works on the Chudobczyce farm after serving time in a Polish prison. Not everyone has been through Barka’s foreign programs and can also come from Poland itself.

Many people in Poland suffered due to the country’s change from communism as most of the state industries suddenly stopped operating.

This left large numbers of unemployed people who turned to migration to seek work and gain a certain measure of security over their lives. However, many do not find this and end up in similar situations to those they were migrating away from; such as homelessness or substance dependency.

A solution for these would be migrants as well as many other people who are facing social exclusion in Poland is an innovative movement being fronted by the Barka Foundation. Polish people who have found themselves in difficulties from all over the world are being offered the chance to live and work in these communities back home. The co-op members are reconnected to a normal and healthy life through community support, accommodation and paid work giving them a new sense of security and purpose.

Barka started as one community of local homeless people who needed support after the fall of communism. During the communist era in Poland a whole generation of people were brought up in a place where the state saw over most business and thus the jobs. After, much of the population struggled to cope with the change to a free market mentality and ended up unemployed. The small original community of twenty five lived communally with Barka’s founders – the Sadowska family in a economically self-sustainable farm. This model has now been used in many similar organisations all over Poland and abroad.

The images in this series are a snapshot of these people’s lives at the co-ops. The series shows two residential co-ops which were also regenerating building and businesses in the local area. One an old soviet farm – Chudobczyce (skinny dogs) and one a homeless dog shelter run by ex-homeless people – the Wielkopomoc (Great Support) Association Co-Operative.

About the author:
David Shaw was born in 1990 in London. He works internationally as a photographer and journalist and has recently been working on a long term projects in the North of England. His work documents stories long-term based around human rights, social issues and communities worldwide.


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