Two friends have shown incredible generosity of spirit by setting up a free advice service that’s reaching out to hundreds of people in need.
Busy mums Aleksandra Bartycha and Katarzyna Wawrzynczak are so dedicated to helping others that they are paying the rent for an office out of their own pockets. Katarzyna even gave up her paid job to concentrate on the service.
The women, originally from Poland, live in Motherwell and are running Way to Independence from a unit in Bellshill Industrial Estate.
Their main task is often to help people struggling to speak English deal with the likes of GP appointments and application forms.
Aleksandra, who is also a self-employed interpreter, said: “We do this because it is realy needed. If people can’t communicate they become isolated.
“We started this at home, but we found we had so many people coming to us we had to find an office.
“At first it was a drop-in service, but we’ve had to arrange an appointments system and now we’re fully booked a week ahead.
“We’re dealing with around 200 people a month and they tell us they feel safe because they know we are here for them.”
Aleksandra and Katarzyna have both lived in Scotland for around 10 years.
Katarzyna said: “I worked as a personal assistant in Hamilton. I’ve given that up to work for nothing and it’s not easy, but we are determined to help people.”
Although the pair act as interpreters, not everyone comes to them for that service. Some clients are Scots who simply struggle to cope with issues such as benefits and tax returns. Aleksandra also happens to be a specialist in tax affairs!
They also have links with Lanarkshire Deaf Club. Aleksandra has a level 3 qualification in sign language and Katarzyna is working towards a qualification. The selfless pair are also doing voluntary work with the deaf club in the little spare time they have.
They have applied for lottery funding which would cover the cost of renting their office and pay for computer equipment. They would hope that a future grant application might get them each a salary.
In the meantime, they are thankful to Asda for letting them collect in the Motherwell store and Tesco for supplying stationery.