At home in Prague without a home
In the cold winter months, Prague's public trams and buses are full of homeless men and women in desperate need of a warm place to get through the night. There are an estimated 4,500 people without a home in Prague, and though there are shelters, they only have beds for 550 people. On especially cold nights, day centres open up their doors but all they have to offer is a warm place and uncomfortable chairs.
In an attempt to help the homeless help themselves, the city's Social Services Centre has just published a new information booklet. Petra Kosova presented the city guide "At Home in Prague without a Home" to the public:
"The address book includes a large chapter with practical information on how to acquire various necessary documents. Another chapter provides basic info on seeking employment, receiving old-age or disability pensions, how to get health insurance, a bank account, or a free forwarding address at which you can pick up your mail. There is also information on day centres, where people in need can speak to social workers. We have contacts and addresses for shelters and affordable accommodation, places where you can get cheap food, clothes, wash yourself and your clothes. And, we haven't neglected cultural activities either."
The guide will be distributed to various shelters and humanitarian organisations around the city, and its authors hope other less fortunate people also make use of it. People who are released from institutional care or ex-convicts, for example, have little preparation for the outside world and are at high risk of ending up on the street. Social workers say if more people reached out for help sooner, they wouldn't end up "At home in Prague but without a home".