Krysia is 18 years old, and the deputy leader of her Guiding unit in Poland. Krysia has always been interested in human rights, and would like to become a lawyer in order to help people. Krystyna is an active campaigner and says that through scouting she has learned that service to others is incredibly important to her: "I cannot imagine that it could not be in my life. My whole life is service and it is scouting that taught me this attitude" she said.
In 2020, Krysia created the “Chamomiles and Pansies” initiative, a plan to help people at risk of domestic abuse. During the lockdown which was put into place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, women who suffer from domestic abuse are more at risk than ever, as they have no way to escape violent situations, or to reach out to seek help.
Chamomiles and Pansies provides a safe way for people at risk of domestic violence to seek help remotely. Krysia came up with the idea of creating a fictional shop on Facebook, and by “purchasing” items in the shop, at-risk individuals can be put into contact with professional support, including psychologists, lawyers and the police. It provides a way for people to reach out for help without raising suspicion and therefore helps minimise risk.
Krysia told us: “The "Chamomiles and Pansies" provides a way to signal either that you need help because you are in the situation of abuse, and in that case such a message is immediately forwarded to the police, or to signal that you need psychological support, in which case that volunteers co-operating with "Chamomiles and Pansies" come with expert knowledge and experience and offer on-line support.”
Within the first few days of launching the initiative, Chamomiles and Pansies helped several dozen people, and has significantly grown since then. It is the first project of its kind available to people in Poland.
Due to the success of the project, and Krysia’s ongoing schoolwork and other responsibilities, she has now passed on management of the project to a civil society organisation.
On 15 February Krysia’s project was awarded a European Civil Solidarity Prize by the EU's Economic and Civil Committee. This prize is a one-off award with the specific theme of "Civil society against COVID-19", which this year will be replacing its flagship annual Civil Society Prize.
The Civil Solidarity Prize honours creative and effective initiatives by individuals, civil society organisations and privately owned companies that have made an outstanding contribution to tackling the COVID-19 emergency and its grave and manifold consequences, thereby strengthening European solidarity and helping to create a European identity based on common EU values. The award ceremony will take place at the EESC plenary session in January 2021 in Brussels.
Krysia told us: “"This award appreciates the work of many people who help me with “Chamomiles and Pansies” initiative - psychologists, lawyers, members of the technical team. Moreover, it highlights the problem of domestic violence, which has increased significantly during the pandemic."