Characteristics of streetworkers’ work and work environment based on research carried out on a particular group of streetworkers

Roland Łukasiewicz

Abstrakt


When helping another person we usually focus on what kind of help we offer and who we help. We often don’t pay attention to the person who offers help. The goal of this summary is to talk about that person – to show, who the volunteer is, in a specific context of street work with homeless people.[1] This article shows not only who streetworkers are, but it also shows their work ethics and their attitude towards the people they help. The research that has been done omits detailed stat analysis in order to focus full attention to parameters and indicators of this particular social study. Because of this process we manage to obtain a vivid and true image of a streetworker‘s agenda.[2]


[1] Defining a streetworker as a volunteer has a double dimension: firstly, it means that the work is done completely for free, and hence it has the character of voluntary service. At the same time I am stressing that this does not mean understanding streetworking as unprofessional work that does not need any tools. This would belittle the value of voluntary service as an activity in general. In my research nearly all the streetworkers have been working without any payment (one streetworker coming from Świnoujście has a full-time job at the Municipal Council, but de facto he is a homeless person. If we work exclusively in order to earn a living, and our work (any work) is only a tool of earning it, we often have an ambivalent attitude towards the object or the subject of our work. In this case streetworking consists in offering aid wholeheartedly, with all the involvement, also emotional involvement. In this way offering support affects the subject that we serve. If we assume that I am a streetworker employed by a social aid institution and I carry out the task of a streetworker because it belongs to my duties, but I view the beneficiaries of the support with dislike, it may be assumed that my attitude towards the work is the same as to the person of the beneficiary. Streetworkers also have a number of tools they should use, so that their work has a real and appropriate dimension. In my opinion a volunteer more often works according to a definite plan, an individual one, also a plan for his own life, than many full time “helpers” employed by a social aid institution (here cases may be found of unwillingly done environmental social work). The work of a volunteer results from his inner need to help others, and is not treated just as a way of earning a living. This is why I do not agree to denying that the terms “a volunteer” and “a streetworker” are synonymous in the context of doing the environmental social work. My point of view is confirmed by the etymology of the word “volunteer” that comes from Latin. Voluntas may be translated as freedom of decision or as good will. Hence voluntary service means work done with good will, work that not everybody has to do. This definition emphasizes respect for the freedom of an individual, for his self-determination, his creativity and activity. See: Act of 24 April 2003 on Public Benefit Activity and on Voluntary Service. In Art. 2 section 3 of the Act a volunteer is defined as a „physical person who voluntarily and without payment performs services according to the rules defined in the Act”. According to J. Grabias voluntary service is today „a form of building a conscious and open society in the sphere of counteracting all negative social phenomena”, so it is an activity with a prophylactic character. Reference to the idea of open society can be seen here, with perceiving voluntary service as a modern panacea that allows satisfying, among others, social needs. See: Joanna Grabias, Wolontariat – praca społeczna alternatywą dla kary pozbawienia wolności, in Optymalizacja oddziaływań resocjalizacyjnych w Polsce i w niektórych krajach europejskich, edited by Franciszek Kozaczuk (Rzeszów: Uniwersytet Rzeszowski, 2006), 211.

[2] Lack of a more profound analysis is the result of having too small a sample for the research, and so analysis with the use of Student’s t-distribution test, chi-squared test, or testing the significance would not have much sense, and results of such analyses could not be extrapolated to a larger population. The study aimed at presenting a small but significant fragment of reality of supporting the homeless and it did not aspire to be a broad description of any population. Moreover, also the small scope of the article is a limitation for analyses carried out on small samples. See: A. Sokołowski, O niewłaściwym stosowaniu metod statystycznych (Kraków: Akademia Ekonomiczna w Krakowie, StatSoft Polska, 2013), 8-9, also: Janusz Wątroba, Praktyczne aspekty szacowania liczebności próby w badaniach empirycznych (Krakwó: StatSoft Polska, 2013), 1-11.


Słowa kluczowe


streetwork; homelessness; exclusion

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Bibliografia


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18290/rt.2016.63.1-10en

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