Prague’s #Donateacoat project offers novel way to help the needy

Blanka Fröhlichová, photo: Ian Willoughby

“Are you cold? Take a coat!” That is literally the message on a wardrobe on the main square in Prague 6 where people in need can pick up clothes at the very spot where others have dropped them off. The person behind #Darujkabat (#Donateacoat) is local woman Blanka Fröhlichová. I asked her where she had found the inspiration for the novel project.

Blanka Fröhlichová,  photo: Ian Willoughby
“I found a picture of a similar idea on the internet and in just a few seconds I decided to do the same thing in the place where I live right now.”

When you started it, what was the initial reaction to the project?

“I posted the idea in a Facebook group named Dejvická parta. It’s for people who are living here in Dejvice, in Prague 6. And they reacted very positively.”

It’s been very cold in Prague recently. Is somebody supervising this, or do you just leave it for people to do what they like with?

“The things have been kept here according to people’s consciences. It’s up to them if they really need the coats and the clothes.

“It’s also up to the people who are able to make donations.”

Who is it aimed at? Who are the people who are taking the clothes from here?

“The people who take the clothes are poor – not only the homeless, but also elderly people and mothers without any support.

Photo: Ian Willoughby
“The idea calls on the people who really need the clothes to take them.”

It’s a very public place here – the biggest open space in Prague 6. Is there a danger that some people may be embarrassed to take clothes from such a public place?

“That was the idea. Not to put the clothes in some institution, but to keep them here, in an open place, through the day and through the night.

“The idea is to encourage people to take them whenever they feel good with it.”

This project is in Prague 6. Have you got any interest from people in other parts of the city in doing something similar?

“Yes. I was surprised to see that this idea was discovered in just a few hours by people all around Prague, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

“People are doing similar things in the place where they live. They are discovering the idea, which is something that makes me very happy.”