The Pontis Foundation presented an award for sustainable development. It went to Alena Vachnová from the DEDO Foundation, which helps families without homes
For the fourth time, the Pontis Foundation has presented an award for contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. The laureate of the SDGs 2022 Award was Alena Vachnová, development manager of the DEDO Foundation, who uses an innovative "housing first" approach to help families without homes find affordable housing and, thanks to a support group of experts, to ensure they can keep it. In connection with the war in Ukraine, she also initiated the establishment of the Integration Centre in Košice, which provides long-term support to people from Ukraine with the aim of easier integration in the town.
In the past, the Pontis Foundation presented awards in six categories. This year, it decided to give only one award to the individual or organisation that contributed the most to the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the past year. These are 17 goals defined by the United Nations, which, according to world leaders, have the power to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. “This year, we wanted to shed light on someone who could respond to current challenges, such as the pandemic or the war in Ukraine. The main criteria for us were the innovativeness of the activities, real results, and the partnerships that were created thanks to these activities,” explains Michal Kišša, executive director of the Pontis Foundation.
The SDGs 2022 Award went to Alena Vachnová for her systematic approach and connection of key partners in integrating people without homes and using this knowledge to integrate refugees from Ukraine. The award presentation was part of the largest conference on social responsibility titled CSR Summit 2022, which the Pontis Foundation organises under the auspices of the Business Leaders Forum association. “We are glad that we helped not only to recognise the work of Alena Vachnová and her team in the metropolis of eastern Slovakia but also to draw attention to burning issues, such as helping people without homes or people fleeing war. One of the priorities of the Tesco Foundation is to help the most vulnerable groups of the population, which is even more important than ever before in this difficult time,” says Veronika Bush, administrator of the Tesco Foundation, who has long supported this award and the SDGs-related issues.
Alena Vachnová, a development manager at the DEDO Foundation in Košice, has been working on the issue of ending homelessness for several years, using the innovative housing first approach. This approach considers housing an essential condition for a dignified life. The DEDO Foundation provides families without homes with social rental housing, for which they pay regular rent. Also, a team of experts accompanies and supports them to keep their housing and gradually improve their lives.
“In Slovakia, we have an established approach called transitional housing. Certain services, such as accommodation, food or social counselling, are supposed to help homeless people work towards stable housing. However, the housing first approach skips over this entire system of services and, in the first step, enables people to live with dignity, which creates a sense of security and stability for them and ends their homelessness,” explains A. Vachnová. As part of the pilot project, the foundation helped 23 families with children this way.
The DEDO Foundation promptly used the experience of working with people without homes in connection with the war in Ukraine. In cooperation with the Košice self-governing region and other non-profit organisations, they operate an Integration Centre in Košice. The centre provides people from Ukraine with comprehensive counselling to ensure their long-term integration in the town.