Social services in Czechia as an example of best practices for the Balkans

Published: Sep 14, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
Serbian study-visit Prague, Jedličkův ústav
© Foto: Karolína Šugarová

At People in Need (PIN), we are supporting civil society organisations (CSOs) which try to improve social services in southern Serbia. As we know, learning is a lifelong endeavour and having an opportunity to see an example of best practices is priceless. We invited representatives of several organisations to the Czech Republic to see how different types of institutions work for the elderly, people with disabilities, and the homeless.

Thirteen representatives from Civic Initiatives, our partner organisation in Serbia, as well as local administrations and CSOs based in three municipalities in southern Serbia, came to Czechia for a week-long study visit, where they visited Prague and Liberec. Our guests work in the area of social services but with different target groups—senior citizens, people with disabilities, and marginalised social groups such as Roma. During the visit, we introduced them to several Czech-founded and operating organisations and institutions working in the social sphere, which could serve as examples of best practices.

One of the institutions we visited was the Jedlička Institute and Schools for people with disabilities in Prague. This is a specialist educational establishment for children and young who provides a wide range of services for students, from elementary and middle-school education and therapeutic rehabilitation, such as speech therapy, computer assistance, and social skills for the workplace. In addition, they provide a flat in which disabled people can safely develop their domestic independence, to mobility consultancy services and many more. Our guests from Serbia had a chance to see how an almost 110-year-old institution works and how its users are integrated into society.

During the study visit, our guests saw the work of our of PIN’s Social Integration Program in Prague. This programme provides social consultation and educational services for people in disadvantaged localities. Other organisations we visited include Life90, which supports the independence of elderly people; Homelike, an organisation supporting homeless women; and Elpida, which helps senior citizens to become equal and respected members of society.

The study visit took place within our “Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development” (ALVED) project, which is supported by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). The project aims to ensure that people in targeted localities in Serbia and Kosovo can empathise with one another’s perspectives, play active civic roles in society, and celebrate diversity. The project is implemented by a consortium of Peaceful Change initiative (PCi), a UK-registered charity, People in Need, two Kosovo-based civil society organisations—NGO Aktiv and Peer Educators Network—and one Serbia-based civil society organisation—Civic Initiatives. Through a focus on participatory social service planning, the project engages the expertise of the consortium members with civil society and municipal representatives to ensure that high-quality social services are available to all, and grassroots civil society actors are offered capacity-building opportunities as well as funding for local initiatives that aim to improve cooperation between local authorities and residents.

Our stakeholders from five municipalities in Kosovo will participate in a similar visit during the first week of October. 

Autor: Karolina Sugarova

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