Visit to Charita Opava and Charitas Sv.Alexandra
13th-15th May 2014, Czech Republic
The meeting in the Czech Republic took place in May 2014. We had the possibility to visit many social enterprises and social projects in 2 cities in northeast part of Czech Republic – Ostrava and Opava.
First day we spent in Ostrava. Programme began with presentation of social project New space. It is a magazine sold in the streets of big cities in the Czech Republic. Newspaper is published once for 14 days since 1999. The vendors are mainly people in social distress, homeless and people threatened by social exclusion. The project mission is to help people in need and also to create communication platform across social, ages and cultural spheres. New space representative described us history, mission, target group and explained us ways how they work with homeless people. There was a space to compare how street papers in different countries are working.
See presentation here:
New space street paper (pdf)
New space street paper (ppt)
It was followed by presentation of project Target – supported employment. This project is focused on providing support to people with disabilities (especially with psychiatric diagnosis) to secure and maintain paid employment in the open labor market. Cooperation with users includes vocational profiling, training of skills important to searching job, job finding and negotiation of suitable job with employers and assistance at workplace. It is project of Caritas of Saint Alexander.
See presentation here:
Target – Supported Employment (pdf)
Target – Supported Employment (ppt)
Later we moved to Caritas of Saint Alexander. It is a church organization targeted on people with disabilities. Caritas offered them job opportunities in their 4 sheltered workshops. Organization employs about 67 people with different kind of disabilities. There are Joinery workshop, Textile workshop, Workshop for plastic manufacturing and Workshop on waste separation.
Caritas staff described context in Czech Republic (unemployment situation, sheltered workshops concept) and briefly introduced sheltered workshops realized by Caritas of Saint Alexander. In the afternoon we had the possibility to visit all these workshops.
The second day we went to Caritas Opava is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 as a voluntary group of women. They decided to help people in crisis and this help was based on Christian principles. Today it is religious legal entity. It´s mission is providing professional services to physically and socially disadvantaged people and employing people with difficulties in labour market.
Caritas Opava employs more than 250 employees and more than 50% of them are physically disadvantaged persons. Caritas Opava has 10 registered social services, 2 medical (health care) centers and 3 sheltered workshops.
At first we saw one of the biggest sheltered workshop in Caritas Opava – Technical workshop, which is located in a small village VelkéHoštice near Opava. The workshop manager showed us activities of this workshop – separation and processing of conventional and dangerous waste, particularly electronic waste and also equipment for these activities. This workshop process more than 500 tons of waste per year.
Then we transferred to Opava – Jaktař where Sheltered workshops of St. Joseph are located. These sheltered workshops are divided into three parts: sewing workshop, ceramic workshop, workshop for completing. Sewing workshop produces handmade textile and decorative complements. In ceramic workshop workers create ceramic decorative products with different techniques and custom production. People in workshop are completing montages of small metal components, plastic toys and other handmade custom completing.
We also had a possibility to see an interesting social service. It´s a Joy – socio-therapeutic workshop which provides long term and regular support and training at work habits to people with mental disadvantages and mental diseases.
Then we visited sheltered workshop in village Vlaštovičky. In this workshop blind people are employed. We could see ceramic workshop produces ceramic products and sculptures products. We saw also a weaving and sewing workshop with handmade woven products – rugs, bags, ponchos and decorative pillows from cotton, wool, flax, coats, skirts and jackets from woven materials.
After that we went to village Strahovice to visit a Salvation army´s special farm. Target group is long term unemployment people threatened by social exclusion. The mission is to offer job opportunities for these people for 12 months and support them to integrate themselves into the society. At the evening we moved back to Ostrava. There was a coordinator meeting focused on midterm evaluation.
The last day we took the bus to Koblov where the director Mr. Novák welcomed us and showed how works association “New chance/ Novášance“. They work with ex offenders and support them to solve their difficult life situation and moving forward in their live. They promote to people at risk of social exclusion return to the labour market and social integration. We could visit shelter house, training locksmith and joinery workshops where the clients gain technical skills.
They presented also the project “Bicycles for Africa/ Kola pro Afriku”. The project is a volunteer run organization focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport. Its mission is through the initiative of the Czech society enable children in Africa the path to education – in the form of a bike. The old bikes are collected with help of volunteers across the Czech republic and then transport to the central warehouse in Koblov. The clients of association “New chance” work for the project “Bicycles for Africa” within the institute of public service and some of them work voluntarily. The clients repair the old bikes and repaired bicycles travels to Gambia. We took a tour of warehouse where we could see thousands of old bikes.
After intensive program we had opportunity to visit unique area of Dolní Vítkovice in the centre of Ostrava. In the past coal was mined and pig iron produced. Now, the industrial complex has changed into a specific educational, social and cultural centre. A skip hoist took us from all the top of the Blast Furnace. We also saw the former gasholder where take place conferences and concerts. In this area runs the world famous festival Colours of Ostrava which attend people from all the corners of the world. That was the last part of the program.