From 5 September, the Riga Support Centre for the residents of Ukraine will be relocated to new premises at Amatu iela 4 and will be open from 9:00 to 17:00. Until now, state and municipal services for Ukrainian civilians were available in one place at the Riga Support Centre in the former building of Riga Technical University at Kaļķu iela 1 where the Centre has been operating since 21 March.
Now, with the decrease in the number of newly registered Ukrainian civilians, the Centre no longer requires the spacious premises it had in the spring. While in March the average number of newly registered Ukrainian civilians per day was around 500 people, currently this number has dropped to an average of 45 people per day. Every day, around 500 people receive various state and municipal services at the Centre. In addition, the building at Kaļķu iela 1 is energy inefficient and to maintain temperature suitable for customer service during winter would result in high costs for the local government due to increase in energy prices.
The building at Kaļķu iela 1 has an area of approximately 10,000 square metres, whereas the building at Amatu iela 4, which until this summer housed the Riga City Council City Development Department, has an area of approximately 4000 square metres available for customer services. The Support Centre will be located on several floors of the building at Amatu iela 4, easily accessible by lift. The new building also provides better accessibility for people with reduced mobility.
Nearly all state and municipal services previously available at Kaļķu iela 1 will also be provided at Amatu iela 4. The registration of Ukrainian civilians will continue and it will also be possible to register children in the educational institutions of Riga and to receive social assistance. The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs will continue to provide the opportunity to apply for and obtain visas for Ukrainian civilians and the State Fire and Rescue Service will continue to provide assistance in accommodation matters. As before, the State Employment Agency will consult on employment matters, whereas the National Health Service will provide information on medical services and their availability, and also psychological counselling. SIA Rīgas Satiksme which provides personalised e-tickets to Ukrainian civilians will also continue its work at Amatu iela 4. The NGOs Gribu palīdzēt bēgļiem and Skalbes will continue to ensure different types of support to Ukrainian civilians at Amatu iela 4. The State Social Insurance Agency has decided not to continue its work at Amatu iela 4.
Moving to a smaller space means giving up some of the additional services previously provided at Kaļķu iela 1. The new building at Amatu iela 4 has no suitable space for a soup kitchen and a playroom for children. This means that from 5 September meals will no longer be available at the Support Centre. Smaller play corners will be available for children in the building at Amatu iela 4. As before, there will be a baby care room for parents to feed and change their babies.
At the same time, various events and activities for Ukrainian civilians will also be organised at Amatu iela 4. Regular job fairs will continue and various types of courses are being considered, including teaching of the Latvian language.
At Amatu iela 4, the customer flow can be organised in such a way that no volunteers are needed. Since March, 780 volunteers have worked at least one shift at the Support Centre. Several dozens of volunteers worked in two shifts every day in the Centre, helping in the soup kitchen, the children’s playroom, helping people find the services they needed, copying documents, helping to fill in applications and doing many other daily tasks that were important to support Ukrainian civilians
Renovation work is ongoing at Amatu iela 4 and the building will be ready for customer service on 5 September. The building at Kaļķu iela 1 will not be used for other functions or services at present.
In order to move the equipment to the new building, the Riga Support Centre will be closed on Friday, 2 September, and on Monday, 5 September, it will open its doors at Amatu iela 4.
Provision of assistance to Ukrainian civilians who have arrived in Riga still remains the main task of the Riga Support Centre, although there is no clear answer from the government on whether the operational costs of the Centre will be covered for the local government.
The Riga Support Centre for Ukrainians started its work on 7 March at the Riga Congress Centre, but on 21 March it was relocated to Kaļķu iela 1. Since 7 March, 16 670 Ukrainian civilians have been registered in the Riga Support Centre.
Author: Edīte Matuseviča, Project Coordinator at External Communication Division of Riga City Council Communication Department, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org