Spotlight on Angelika: Building a network of support for the LGBTQIA+ community in Poland

During Pride this year, we spoke to London-based guardian Angelika, who recently moved to the city. She was drawn to Dot Dot Dot’s volunteering-based approach, having helped set up the Tecza Po Burzy Foundation in Poland, which exists to support LGBTQIA+ people with their mental health.

Building the Foundation in the face of adversity

“I study neuroscience and have done LGBTQIA+ activism in the UK before so I felt compelled to get involved and redirect my focus on Poland specifically. The political situation has worsened in Poland, and the government is actively making it worse so it’s really important to offer support there.

When we set up the organisation last July, we did a lot of research into what support looks like for LGBTQIA+ people to understand how we can better cater to their needs. There are a number of LGBTQIA+ organisations in Poland but none which focus specifically on mental health support. The ones that exist have some initiatives, but largely focus on legal representation and assistance, cultural and artistic events. We needed to know what obstacles people face and what they required of an organisation that is trying to offer support.”

“It took us ten months to get registered as an organisation –  we can’t say it was due to homophobia, but they were definitely making it more difficult.”

Setting a vision as CEO

“As the founder and CEO, my role is to make things work! My focus is on the  bigger picture –  figuring out how we can do this long term. I talk to a lot of people, and try to find the right ways to communicate our mission and vision. My work for the organisation is varied. I spend time coming up with a strategy for funding, and I sometimes get involved in social media work.”

Creating a ‘map of support’ in the health sector

“There is a real lack of knowledge when it comes to the physical and mental health of LGBTQIA+ people. It is shocking to find out that 83% of medical professionals don’t know much about what it means to be a trans person, for example. We are working on a long term project to help combat this. When you’re distressed and you have to spend hours and hours looking for help and support online, it is even worse when you don’t know if you can trust the person who is sitting in front of you.

We’ve built and keep developing something we call the ‘Map of Support’. It is a database of trusted mental health professionals (therapists, psychiatrists, sexologists etc). We check how trained they are, and in what areas (i.e. same sex couples therapy, neurodivergent patients etc.). We want to make sure the people who say they are LGBTQIA+ friendly are actually helping and not traumatizing people further.”

Initiating important conversations

“One of our visions is to create something educational and meaningful for the community. We are currently working on a magazine that brings artists and therapists together. The first issue was about relationships. We wanted to focus on role models for the LGBTQIA+ people as there aren’t many in current mainstream media. In the second issue, we are discussing spirituality. As LGBTQIA+ people, we are often excluded from conversations on and exploration into the world of spirituality. The magazine includes interviews and articles from therapists as well as book and film recommendations. There is always a ‘guest from abroad’ section in English.”

Join upcoming ‘Stories of queer Poland’ live event

The Tecza Po Burzy Foundation is hosting an event, ‘Stories of queer Poland’, on Wednesday 22nd June at King’s College, London. This live panel event will also be hosted on Zoom. Register to attend the event. 

Angelika and the team at the Tecza Po Burzy Foundation would also love to hear from anyone interested in helping out with the organisation. Email info.teczapoburzy@gmail.com.

Barbara Morden

Read about our guardians volunteering efforts

Our guardians do some incredible work with a range of charitable and non-profit organisations. Discover how guardianship with Dot Dot Dot enables the people we house to dedicate more time to to the causes they care about.

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