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August 16, 2018
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Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion says "training" apartments and jobs will help second-largest city

29.6.2017 10:57
Director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion Radek Jiránek (PHOTO:  Agentura pro sociální začleňování)
Director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion Radek Jiránek (PHOTO: Agentura pro sociální začleňování)

The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion is reporting that an estimated 2 000 households in Brno, Czech Republic are living on the edge of social distress. Almost 11 % of the population is being subjected to collections proceedings, with the average debtor involved in seven proceedings and a total debt burden of CZK 980 000 [EUR 37 000].

Almost 16 000 Brno residents are enrolled with the Labor Office as job-seekers, not quite half of whom are grappling with long-term unemployment. Change for the better is meant to be introduced by new projects run by nonprofit organizations.

The Brno City Council has voted to support social inclusion projects. This might bring more than CZK 350 million [EUR 13 million] from the EU funds to address social problems.

As many as 50 "training" jobs in administration, janitorial or maintenance services could give the chance of a new start to as many as 200 long-term unemployed persons. Counseling about job-seeking and retention will be given to an additional 400 people.

Primary prevention and community work

The development of a local network about employment and social enterprises is oneoutcome Brno would like to see from the projects submitted, as well as a program to prevent people from losing their housing. Increasing the number of crime prevention assistants working on the streets of Brno is another potential outcome.

The projects will be administered by the Brno City Council and local nonprofits. The inability to extricate oneself from indebtedness, hand in hand with low qualifications, is the main barrier for many people attempting to acquire stable, standard employment and housing.

Debt counseling centers and field social workers, primarily run through nonprofit projects, should aid people with this and other issues. The nonprofits involved focus, for example, on aid to victims of domestic and sexual violence, primary prevention and treatment of addictions, or the development of community work.

According to estimates, as many as 2 000 households in this second-largest city in the Czech Republic are living on the edge of distress. The conditions in which these families live are reflected not in their states of health, but also by their children's academic achievements.

Aid for families in distress

The Brno City Council and nonprofit organizations are planning to take advantage of experiences from last year to aid as many as 30 families with children living in shelters, residential hotels or overcrowded apartments managed by dishonest owners with finding new homes in private rental housing. The projects count on comprehensive social work with these families focused the area of housing and the debt issue.

During the past two years, moreover, there have been 409 cases of children being removed from their parents' care and institutionalized. Therefore,  expansion of facilities specializing in family and marriage counseling is also planned.

Brno is anticipating the creation of a mediation center to facilitate the resolution of conflict situations in families. In some localities families will be able to access an assisant to aid them wih solving the problems of their life situations.

Rapidity and efficiency

"The problem of social exclusion is being experienced by many ciitzens - more and more frequently by young people, single parents, and senior citizens - and most of the measures in the Strategic Plan for Social Inclusion approved last year, on which the projects are based, are designed to address all who need aid, not exclusively specific localities," explains Radek Jiránek, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, with whom the city first began to collaborate in 2008. Matěj Hollan, the Vice-Mayor tasked with social policy issues, said, "I am glad the city councillors supported the projects submitted at their meeting... and recommended the assembly approve them. These projects open the door to our drawing on resources the city needs in order to continue to improve living conditions for all residents of Brno."

"Our aim is to link individual actors together, to further develop activities already underway in the city, and to add new ones to them," said Jan Mochťák, the Local Consultant to the Agency for the City of Brno. "This is a unique chance to take advantage of resources from the Structural Funds to coordinate solutions including improving social work and making such processes more effective."

The projects should improve the accessibility and quality of the social services offered in Brno. "All of the projects are designed so clients can deal with solving their own problems by themselves. If the aid of an institution will be necessary, it should be effective and fast so that the effect will be long-term and clients will not have to keep relying on local authorities. All is being created on the principle of a safety net to keep people from falling to the very bottom of society and aiding them with getting on their own feet again," said Martin Freund, a Brno City assembly member focused on social inclusion about the basic idea of the projects.

press release of the Czech Government Agency for Social Exclusion, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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