PKP Group Foundation won’t let the pandemic stop its activities
Despite the ongoing situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PKP Group Foundation is not slowing down and continues to work at full speed, with all efforts redirected to fighting the virus.
Construction crew working on tracks as part of Budimex SA investment project.
On 4 March 2020, the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection was confirmed in Poland. Since then, the amount of infections – and those subject to the 14-day mandatory home quarantine – has steadily increased. This most often included those who returned from trips abroad. The escalation of events mobilised the management board of the PKP Group Foundation (hereafter Foundation), to assist railway workers who were suddenly confined to their homes for two weeks and unable to accept help from those closest to them. This resulted in two projects – employee volunteering and assistance for employees who were subject to the 14-day home quarantine.
Help us help others
We currently have six employees working at the Foundation, which is not enough to provide assistance to all of the railway workers throughout Poland, especially during the pandemic, when restrictions on movement exist. As a result, we decided to launch an appeal to PKP Group employees, encouraging them to help and sign-up for our volunteer service, ‘Kolejarze Kolejarzom’ (Rail Workers Supporting Rail Workers).
Thanks to information posted in the trade press and the company intranet, over 40 people have come forward and expressed their interest in helping us. “It is very encouraging that, despite the epidemiological situation in Poland, people are not afraid and want to help colleagues from their industry who find themselves in a difficult situation,” emphasised Katarzyna Kucharek, the Foundation’s President of the Board of Directors. “We are proud that railway workers have proven, once again, that they are solid, obliging and selfless.”
Each volunteer received a set of masks and gloves from the Foundation and underwent appropriate safety training to ensure that they limit exposure and avoid direct contact with those infected. The volunteers helped with simple tasks, such as purchasing basic necessities, including food and hygiene products.
Support for those in need
Persons under quarantine requiring assistance can contact the Foundation by sending an email. Foundation staff will then respond to requests by calling the employee to determine their location and which items they need. We treat each case individually, as we don’t have volunteers available everywhere. We then contact the person’s workplace asking for delivery and the purchase of products, which are sponsored by the Foundation. Assistance is provided only to those who have not received it from relatives or other organisations.
Protective masks for railway workers
As part of the fight against coronavirus, employees and volunteers of the Foundation have been providing assistance to railway workers on duty. They received protective masks to perform their duties in safe conditions. Railway companies which responded to the Foundation’s offer received protective masks at no cost. Those who received the packages provided the masks to employees, those who continue to perform their duties and are unable to work remotely. Foundation employees and volunteers, who are also wearing masks, support the ‘Railworkers’ campaign by delivering parcels to those in need, who are at home and under quarantine.
As part of the fight against coronavirus, employees and volunteers of the Foundation have been providing assistance to railway workers on duty.
Katarzyna added: “Thank you to the Modus company from Bydgoszcz for the initiative. Despite the pandemic, railway workers are still on duty, and additional personal protection equipment is now mandatory. Delivery of free protective gear is an approach worth admiring and imitating!”
To meet the changing needs and conditions in the country, Modus – the manufacturer of uniforms and other products – began producing protective masks. They provide products to uniformed services, the army, hospitals and railway staff. Masks were also sent to Provincial Anti-Crisis Staff, Territorial Defence Forces and hospitals in Bydgoszcz. The President of the Management Board of Modus Przedsiębiorstwo Odzieżowe S.A., Marek Ulewicz, declared that, if possible, he would make masks available to all railway entities which requested them.
Protecting construction workers
Budimex S.A. made a donation to the Foundation to support the fight against COVID-19.
One of the key activities that we jointly carry out is securing employees on railway construction sites by providing them with personal protective equipment (PPE). Despite the ongoing pandemic, rail investments are still ongoing. The Budimex company is carrying out investment works on behalf of the national rail infrastructure manager, including on railway lines E-30 (on the Trzebinia–Krzeszowice section), on route No. 7 (Otwock–Nałęczów) and route No. 139 (Czechowice–Dziedzice).
“We are involved in helping combat COVID-19 in many areas,” stated Cezary Mączka, Member of the Board and Director of Human Resources Management at Budimex SA. “Budimex has always been and is a committed company that attaches great importance to social responsibility.”
Construction workers are involved in each project and contribute to important rail investments. While we are faced with the threat and spread of coronavirus, their health is particularly at risk. The Foundation provided protective masks to Budimex employees to ensure better protection and safety for those working on railway projects. This will contribute to limiting illness and will ensure the smooth implementation of rail investments during a time when providing and protecting jobs is so important.
Supporting children in online learning
During the pandemic, educational institutions have been conducting classes remotely, with students taking part in virtual lessons. Unfortunately, not everyone has this opportunity. Some children come from families with many children, where only one computer is available, preventing some students from completing the curriculum. Students from poorer families may also have problems accessing online learning. However, with the help of the business, the Foundation has provided home computers for children from railway families in need.
Raising over 5 million PLN for the fight against COVID-19
The next step was to raise funds for diagnostic and preventive measures. As a result, the PKP Group of companies donated over 5 million PLN through the Foundation to fight coronavirus.
“The pandemic associated with the spread of coronavirus, which has affected the international community and Polish citizens today, is the greatest epidemic threat of the 21st century,” stated Krzysztof Mamiński, President of the Management Board of PKP S.A. “The extraordinary situation we are in now requires extraordinary actions: discipline, implementation of special procedures at work and everyday life, but also empathy and concern for others. Polish State Railways, as a company with many years of tradition, in which serving the public is the basis of everyday operations, feels obliged to support the health service in the fight against the current threat.”
Currently, as part of these activities, the Foundation has purchased equipment that can detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a clinical specimen.
Purchase of diagnostic equipment
The Laboratory Department of the WSSE (Provincial Sanitary and Epidemiological Station) in Warsaw conducts tests to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in clinical specimens. The research is carried out using molecular methods (Real-Time PCR), which allows for the detection of the specific viral genes present in the sample.
“At the moment, the diagnostic team performs all stages of the test manually, which is time consuming and laborious,” explains Marta Pakieła, Deputy Director for the Laboratory of the Provincial Sanitary and Epidemiological Station. “In order to improve it, automation is needed, especially at the first stage – isolation and purification of the genetic material of the virus. The purchase of the equipment will relieve staff and automate this critical stage of the examination. Thanks to the purchase of new equipment, the WSSE laboratory in Warsaw will be able to perform more tests during the day and, thus, more effectively fight the COVID-19 epidemic.”
Were it not for the support of donors and the PKP Group of companies, this would not have been possible. The Foundation thanks everyone who has been involved in the implementation of this project – and this is just the beginning. Our appreciation goes out to Polskie Koleje Państwowe S.A., PKP Intercity S.A., PKP Informatyka S.A., PKP CARGO S.A., PKP Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa sp. z.o.o., CS Natura Tour sp.z.o.o. and Xcity Investment sp.z.o.o. – these companies provided funds for a noble purpose.
“In the age of epidemics, providing equipment for medical and diagnostic facilities, as in the case of the Provincial Sanitary and Epidemiological Station in Warsaw, is a must” declared Katarzyna. “The PKP Group Foundation, and the companies from the PKP Group, have made a contribution through the purchase of specialised equipment during our global fight against the pandemic.”
The next step is to help medical facilities and hospitals. The funds transferred will be used to purchase the most needed products, such as personal protective equipment for medical workers: including nurses, doctors, and ambulance attendants.