Łódź is a city located in the center of Poland, 3rd biggest in the country with728 892 inhabitants. It is mostly known for its textile industry heritage. Among years the city was continuously developing. Public opinion claims that it is on the right way for incremental development. Authorities are gaining new investors; new shopping malls are build, where exclusive brands are located. Łódź’s Economic Area is an opportunity for many young people to find a job. Cultural heritage is attracting many foreign personalities to visit and invest here. Moreover it appeared a lot of modern, exclusive restaurants, where wealthy citizens are spending their money. Old city center was renovated, from abandoned factories foreign investors created new place for entertainment for whole families (shops, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and many more). Abandoned buildings were reorganized into modern lofts, where not only Polish people are willing to move in.
However on the other side of this bright picture with investments, colorful renovated places, it exists different “face of the city” – dirty, hungry and poor. How is it possible to have such a disproportion in one place? Just behind the walls of modern part of the city there are old tenement houses remembering good old times of textile industry revolution. Real dimension of Łódź’s poverty are not wholly known: authorities, charity organizations, social care cannot unanimously assess its scale. The reason is simple: poverty is something people are ashamed of. We can notice it everywhere in the city, where people are begging for money, collecting waste paper, cans, or asking for some money in front of shopping malls or car parks.
Where does the poverty come from? Apparently in this case, mostly it is inherited, and goes from generation to generation. When child is raised in a poor family, he/she has a little chance to finish studies, find good work, and start different life than parents. There are various reasons: parents are not able to buy books, send children to studies, and provide them with sufficient standard of living.
In year 2008, 9000 of inhabitants together with children received support from MOPS (municipal centre of social aid). Models of the families are similar: both or one of the parents is often unemployed, sometimes suffering of alcoholism, raising more than one child. Small flat in a tenement, no money for: food, clothes. Social aid is supporting poor families with: unemployment benefits, welfare benefits, providing of dinners at schools (also food supplies from EU). Very often poverty is a problem in “normal”, loving families, where pathology is absent. The problem might arise, because one of the parents lost his/her job. Prices are rising, there are also expenditures like: payment for the flat, bills. In the beginning these families are not asking for additional help and support (they believe they will find another job). However, after few months they are forced to exercise their right and get 500 PLN (~120 euro) of benefit, to be able to fulfill their families’ basic needs.