The armed conflict in Ukraine, which began in 2014 and escalated in 2022, has caused one of the largest waves of migration in Europe since World War II. Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes and seek safety in other countries. In the face of this crisis, Polish authorities and non-governmental organizations are taking action to provide support, including financial support, to the refugees. There are a number of programs and initiatives that offer assistance in terms of financial benefits, housing, and essential supplies.
In this text, we will present the points where refugees from Ukraine in Poland can receive financial and material aid.
Statutory and public institution-guaranteed assistance
If you are a Ukrainian citizen and legally reside in Poland since February 24, 2022 (this also applies to your spouse, regardless of their citizenship), you have the right to receive social benefits. These include family benefits, parenting benefits, social assistance (such as allowances or emergency aid), Good Start program, family care capital, and subsidies to reduce childcare fees in nurseries. The conditions and rules for granting these benefits are the same as those for Polish citizens, except for those specified by the “special law.”
It is worth reading: Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej [The Legal Intervention Association] has published and updates The Act on Assistance for Ukrainian Citizens (June 5, 2023).
Available social programs
The aforementioned financial benefits are implemented by Municipal and Communal Social Welfare Centers (MOPS/GOPS). The specific scope and type of assistance may vary depending on individual circumstances and sometimes also on the decisions and policies of individual centers. To find out what benefits you are entitled to and to what extent, please contact the social welfare center that corresponds to your current place of residence.
Below are a few of the most popular social programs:
- Family 500+ – Ukrainian citizens and their spouses who legally reside in Poland can receive a monthly benefit of 500 PLN for each child. The child must be a Ukrainian citizen, under 18 years old, and have arrived in Poland after February 24th. If you are temporarily caring for a child born in Poland or if you are a Ukrainian mother, you can also apply for the 500+ benefit. The money will be paid for the entire period of the child’s stay in Poland.
- Housing Allowance – The applicant must provide proof of income from the three months prior to the application. The current income threshold is 1698.76 PLN for multi-person households and 2265.01 PLN for single-person households. The application must also include bills (for rent and utilities). The decision is made by the municipality or district office responsible for the place of residence.
- Family Care Capital (RKO) – This program is intended for young children aged 1 to 3 years. Monthly subsidies range from 500 to 1000 PLN. It’s important to note that you cannot simultaneously benefit from the 400 Plus and RKO programs. You can apply for RKO once the child reaches 9 months of age.
- 400 Plus – It offers financial assistance of up to 400 PLN to parents of children attending nurseries. The support amount covers the costs associated with the facility, excluding meals. If the monthly expenses are lower than 400 PLN, you can receive a subsidy corresponding to the actual costs. This support can be used to cover nursery expenses, children’s clubs, or the fees of a daily caregiver working in an institution or a private daycare provider.
A comprehensive overview of various types of financial benefits, including childbirth grants, care allowances (for people with disabilities, children, and elderly individuals), and caregiving benefits (for parents or guardians of disabled children), is provided in the brochure “Benefits for Ukrainian Citizens who arrived in Poland after February 24, 2022” created by the Legal Intervention Association.
Statutory benefits for Ukrainians in Poland
The aforementioned “special law,” which is the Law on Assistance to Ukrainian Citizens, also includes several additional benefits offered to Ukrainian citizens:
- One-time support of 300 PLN – The decision to grant this support is made by the mayor or president of the city, depending on the place of residence of the applicant. In practice, however, these authorities often delegate the responsibility of accepting applications to Municipal or Communal Social Welfare Centers (MOPS/GOPS). You can find a sample application form at this link.
- Benefits for students – Ukrainian students who continue their studies in Poland can apply for a student loan. This is a special low-interest loan disbursed in monthly installments. Repayment begins no earlier than two years after obtaining the diploma. Students with excellent academic results may qualify for partial loan forgiveness. You can read about the eligibility conditions here.
Support offered by higher education institutions
Additionally, most universities have implemented assistance programs where Ukrainian students can apply for full or partial exemption from tuition fees, non-stationary study costs, or dormitory fees. Students may also be eligible for grants and scholarships. Grants are typically awarded as one-time support, while social scholarships are granted for a year or semester with the possibility of renewal. The specific conditions are determined by the rector of each university.
It is worth checking: University of Warsaw for Ukraine.
Network of Support for Crime Victims
An important source of financial assistance for Ukrainian citizens who have a PESEL number (Polish identification number) is the Fund for Victims of Crime and Post-Penitentiary Assistance. Refugees can apply for compensation for the damages they have suffered and support in case of financial difficulties resulting from their migration situation. There is also the possibility of receiving assistance related to accommodation costs, medical treatment, education, or medical care.
Within the Network of Support for Crime Victims, there are 305 assistance points throughout the country, including material aid. To find the one closest to your place of residence, you can use the search engine. However, it is important to note that in order to apply for support from this fund, certain criteria must be met, and documentation of the damages suffered is required.
Financial assistance from international humanitarian organizations
Financial support aimed at facilitating adaptation and stabilization in a new environment is also offered by humanitarian organizations. Through programs, grants, and cash disbursements, NGOs strive to provide refugees not only with immediate assistance but also with prospects for a better future.
Cash assistance from UNHCR
The Targeted Assistance for Individuals in the Most Vulnerable Situations is an initiative by UNHCR. The organization provides three months of financial support to individuals who have fled from Ukraine and their families. UNHCR no longer accepts individual applications, but it is still possible to access the program by contacting a partnering organization.
Information about the program can be obtained by contacting the UNHCR hotline at 800 012 948 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm) or by emailing email@example.com.
Each situation is assessed individually, and the final decision on the cash disbursement is made by UNHCR based on the eligibility interview. However, meeting the minimum criteria is necessary:
- arrival in Poland after February 24, 2022, following prior residence in Ukraine;
- serious needs (e.g., being an elderly person, sole caregiver of a child, unaccompanied child, pregnant woman, person with disabilities or health issues, etc.);
- difficult economic situation (e.g., lack of a stable income, lack of Polish benefits);
- no previous participation in any financial program offered by organizations in Poland (except for receiving 300 PLN from the Polish government).
From July 1, 2023, the payout amount will be increased based on inflation in Poland and will be the same for each family member (previously it was 700 PLN per family member and 600 PLN for the rest).
There is no possibility of self-registration or application for this program. Families and individuals in need will be identified through various channels, such as partner organizations and local authorities.
Polish Red Cross
The Polish Red Cross (Polski Czerwony Krzyż) is an important source of financial support for refugees. The type of support depends on the specific branch, so it is worth following the activities of the branch closest to your place of residence. The last financial assistance program offered by the Polish Red Cross ended in May 2023; however, new programs may arise. Currently (as of July 2023), the Polish Red Cross offers a wide range of material assistance. To find out where and what specific support you can receive, visit the Polish Red Cross website.
Caritas provides material and social assistance through Migrant and Refugee Aid Centers in Poland. In almost every center, basic products such as cleaning supplies, clothing, food, and medical supplies are available. Some centers also offer reimbursements for incurred costs (e.g., in Zamość), financing of children’s school meals and trips (Płock), and assistance with renting accommodation (Bydgoszcz). A full list of available benefits, as well as addresses and contacts for the centers, can be found on the Polish Caritas website.
Polish Center for International Aid
PCPM is currently not accepting new applications for the financial assistance program for Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Until the end of August 2023, only those who have previously submitted an application can register. However, due to the high interest in the program, the foundation is working to secure new funds. Therefore, it is worth staying informed, as another round of funding may become available.
Polish Humanitarian Action
In April 2023, Polish Humanitarian Action resumed the TERA program. The aim of this initiative is to provide support to the most vulnerable individuals for a period of three months. Initial registration can be done by calling +48 800 112 233. Questions about the project can be directed to the PAH helpline at 800 105 555 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Details can be found here.
Local Assistance and Support for Special Groups
Cash assistance for all Ukrainian citizens residing in Poland is primarily provided by government institutions, local authorities, and international organizations. The NGO sector in Poland operates at the local level, offering essential items, subsidies, or free housing. Some associations focus on providing assistance to specific groups.
Assistance for special groups
Among the initiatives targeting specific groups, the following can be mentioned:
- State Fund for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (PFRON)– carries out funding projects for refugees from Ukraine with disabilities, including assistance in purchasing equipment. Details can be obtained by calling +48 22 505 57 72.
- Wygrajmy Siebie Foundation – provides financial assistance to seriously ill children and young people. Registration form available here.
- Noir United International NUI dla studentów z Afryki – financial, food and housing support for African-origin students displaced in Poland and Ukraine.
- Rocket Oncology Foundation – facilitates continued treatment for Ukrainian cancer patients in Poland, including financial support and cost reimbursement.
- District Centers for Crime Victims – provide funded financial and material support to crime victims and their closest relatives.
- Creators for Ukraine for artists – individuals can apply for financial assistance for artists or grants for the implementation of cultural and educational projects.
Search Mapuj Pomocto find other points providing financial support. On the map, you will also find nearly 300 initiatives where you can receive material assistance.
Local material support for Ukrainian refugees
Here are a few regional initiatives:
- Warto Razem dla Ukrainy in Poznań – provides material assistance to mothers with children, large families, pregnant women, people with disabilities, those unable to work, and retirees. Contact information and warehouse addresses can be found at this link.
- Koper Pomaga Foundation in Łódź – organizes material assistance for daily needs.
- New Story Foundation in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship – offers food and material packages.
- Jesuit Refugee Service Poland in Warsaw – provides material assistance alongside legal and psychological support. Contact can be made with JRS, for example, through Telegram.
- “Dobro Czynić” Charitable Mission – assists in finding accommodation in the Masovian Voivodeship.
- Punkt Pomocy “Żyj w Krakowie” Salam Lab – assists in finding free accommodation.
- UNITATEM Foundation in Podkarpackie Voivodeship – provides accommodation and meals for up to 120 days.
- Pestka Foundation in Kielce – offers assistance in securing the financial needs for healthcare for its beneficiaries.
- “Dla Ziemi” Association and Biedronki Foundation – assist in finding free temporary accommodation/overnight stays; details can be found here.
We have presented only a part of the regional initiatives that are engaged in providing assistance to refugees. It is worth following the activities of dedicated local groups to stay up to date with their actions. We feature such initiatives daily on the Mapuj Pomoc Instagram account. Follow us to stay informed about new financial assistance programs!