/VIDEO, PHOTO/ The approaching winter threatens homeless people the most. In the republic, they are most often found in the capital, also because of the possibilities of obtaining food, money and the number of services provided. We mapped out what a typical day is like for an outreach worker who cares for homeless people, but also some of the people’s stories and the reasons that brought them to the street.
Salvation Army – tour of the hostel in Holešovice and facilities in Prague 5
| Video: Eliška Stodolová
Ms. Jinka had been on the street since summer. At the same time, he has previous experience with staying without a roof over his head. “I have two grown children. I’m still in contact with my son, but I don’t want to bother him. I feel that as a mother, I should help him more than he should help me,” explains Mrs. Jinka, sitting on a couch in the Salvation Army shelter in Holešovice.
She ended up on the street when her boyfriend refused to support her anymore. At the same time, she moved to him from the training housing. In retrospect, he considers it stupid. “Now I’m in financial need. In the future, I want to somehow survive in the asylum, there are more of us women here and we don’t always get to sit down. I also want to find a job and my own home,” she says, adding that she used to earn a living as a caregiver.
Loss of money and job
Financial need also brought Mr. J to the street. He came to the day care center in Prague’s Malešice at the beginning of June saying that he had to pay his debt of 60,000 crowns and because of this he lost everything. “He first slept on the Hermes ship and then came to our day center for a night stay. He previously attended an art school where he learned to be a photographer. He also had a part-time job as a playground guard in Prague 5, where he was very satisfied, but there was no possibility of accommodation there. That’s why we were looking for a suitable home for him together. We also offered him the opportunity to enter the Program for Workers, which is intended for people who work and want to actively solve their situation,” explains social worker Andrea Cihelková, adding that in this case, housing was found for the client.
Interest in hostels will increase. People can donate by buying a voucher for an overnight stay
The return of homeless people back to housing, including finding work and decent living conditions, is one of the main missions of the organizations that care for them. But it is not always easy. Clients must first of all want to use the help offered.
Although the situation in Prague has not changed much in recent years, according to social workers, the number of older people is increasing. They are mostly people over 50 years old. At the same time, being on the street devastates them more than the younger and more resilient generations. According to the analyses, about 3,500 people, the overwhelming majority of whom are men, are forced to live on the streets in Prague.
An outreach worker works with homeless people
These clients, as homeless people are commonly referred to in social services, are taken care of by outreach workers at first, while still on the street. Arnošt Drozd is one of them. At the same time, his working day is quite busy.
I meet him at the asylum in Prague 7 and I have a few hours to spend with him. He immediately takes us to the car and on the way to the branch of the Salvation Army in Prague 5, not far from the Anděl metro station, they talk. “Often clients have a psychological problem or are completely socially excluded. Sometimes it takes time to gain trust. We have a gentleman who didn’t want anything from us at the beginning, but now he’s been going to our therapist for three years, he even goes to the shower regularly,” describes Arnošt, adding that clients sometimes feel that if they accept help, they will have to pay back somehow.
The branch in Prague 5 is relatively lively shortly after noon. Field workers have facilities here and are preparing for the trip to Prague 11 to Krč. Soup is to be poured here today, coffee is to be offered, but also mobile medical assistance is to be provided. It is a regular Wednesday event that homeless people are already used to.
Source: Eliška Stodolová
We are therefore moving to Krč by car to see how the soup is distributed. We arrive a little earlier than the soup truck, so we wait in the car. “Otherwise they would have attacked us right away,” says Arnošt with a laugh. When social workers arrive with soup and coffee, we also get out of the car. Homeless people communicate in a friendly manner, but they usually don’t want to be in photos with their faces. “That’s not the kind of publicity I want,” says one of the customers who came in for a coffee.
Their stories are different. Some live in tents a short distance from the station, where hot soup and pastries are provided. Others have accommodation, but after paying the rent they have nothing else to do. “I live from temporary jobs. My parents recently died, so I’m trying to get by,” says another client.
distribution of coffee, soup, clothing and medical services in the field in Prague’s KrčSource: Diary/Eliška StodolováAnother has experience of being in prison. “I like to fight,” he says, adding that he himself now lives in a community of about ten homeless people in tents not far away.
In the community, they also take care of a dog that runs freely among the clients. “He’s better off than we are,” says the man, pointing to the feed he’s made for him.
Minor injuries and minor pains are treated by a doctor on site
A doctor is also present in the field, who provides basic care from minor injuries to the provision of Ibalgins for minor pains. He communicates with clients in a friendly manner and tries to find out from them during the conversation what is really bothering them.
In the meantime, Arnošt handles a lot of phone calls, forwards contacts, advises clients. “Sometimes it ends well, but it’s a vicious cycle. We are still dealing with doctor’s visits, issuing documents, handing out leaflets and offering help,” he concludes. The field work of the workers takes place every day from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
Verbal aggression is here on a daily basis, says a doctor who treats homeless people
But they often help even in the evening if the phone rings or if assistance is needed. Arnošt drops me off at Kačerov in Prague. But his work does not end that day. He is heading straight to South City, where he continues to help homeless people.
Winter projects for homeless people in Prague
Since November, the Salvation Army has launched the 8th year of the Nocleženka project, thanks to which the public can help homeless people during the winter. By purchasing the so-called nightclothes worth CZK 100 the donor will provide a homeless person not only with a night in the warmth of the Salvation Army hostel, but also with soup and pastry, a hot drink, the opportunity to take a shower, carry out personal hygiene, a health check-up, treatment at a general practitioner’s office and, last but not least, the opportunity to talk to a social worker , which is a very important part in solving a complex life situation.
The Salvation Army expects higher interest in its services this year. This is influenced by rising energy or food prices. He is also expecting more interest in his hostels. This year, in addition to the hostel in Holešovice, she also opened a second one in Malešice. Last year, 462 people came to their hostel in Prague.
Places in the dormitory are also offered by the Archdiocesan Charity of Prague or, for example, by the Hermes ship, which is in operation for free from 7:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday.