Norway Grants supports the Municipal Department of Prague 3 by recruiting a Roma counselor to help Roma residents

Veronika Polášková, Roma Councilor of the Municipal Department of Prague 3 (2022). [PHOTO: Zdeněk Ryšavý, Romea.cz]

The municipal department of Prague 3 has created the full-time position of a Roma counselor to help Roma residents solve various situations – Roma are the largest minority in this part of the Czech capital and, according to the deputy mayor Ondřej Rut (Greens), are victims of discrimination in access to education, employment and housing. Rut made the announcement during a press conference streamed live online by TV ROMEA.

Referring to nuanced estimates, Rut said that between 2,000 and 3,000 representatives of the Roma minority reside in Prague 3, making it the largest national minority in the municipal department, which has around 77,000 inhabitants. According to the deputy mayor, many Roma still face discrimination there.

“The Roma community remains reserved, finds it difficult to communicate its problems to outsiders and generally does not ask for help. Therefore, we don’t know much about its problems,” the deputy mayor said.

According to him, the objective of the work of the Roma adviser is to follow the evolution of the situation of the Roma minority, to identify its needs and any risks threatening the standard of living of the group, and at the same time to seek opportunities for support her; Veronika Polášková was hired as an adviser who was supposed to help local Roma find housing and jobs, negotiate with bureaucrats, manage allowances or enroll children in school. She is originally from Ústí nad Labem, where she worked for child protection services, then at the Probation and Mediation Serviceexperiences that brought her into contact with Roma customers.

Polášková told reporters that since her arrival in Prague 3, she and her clients mainly deal with debt relief offered by the Czech state’s “Summer of Mercy” program or problems related to rising debts. energy price. “I am ready to advise and help those interested in applying for allowances and housing solutions, as well as accompany them when they visit different bureaucracies,” she described the scope of her work.

“I also support children’s attendance and enrollment in school,” she said. Polášková will also help Roma residents to complete applications, forms and requests related to legal proceedings.

The adviser will be available in person at the office of the Municipal Department of Prague 3, Seifertova Street, on Mondays and Wednesdays, or by e-mail at polaskova.veronika@praha3.cz. An important role will also be played in its work by a newly created working group, whose members include employees of the Prague 3 social welfare department, representatives of partner organizations of the project R-Mosty and Slovakia 21the regional coordinator of the city of Prague for Roma affairs, representatives of the RomanoNet The NGO network and NGOs ROMEA and Romodromand the Cimburkova Elementary School operating in the third district of the city.

“Prague 3 has been active in social inclusion projects for many years and we are honored to be invited to collaborate with them again,” said Jakub Čihák, Director of R-Mosty, about their partnership in the project. “Our ambition is to transmit to the town hall the proven and useful tools of the classic aid professions, because there are still a large number of Roma who live in difficult conditions and encounter many obstacles to their development and access to dignified living conditions.

Jelena Silajdžić, director of Slovo 21, is also happy to cooperate in the project. “We have been operating in the field of Roma inclusion for more than 20 years and we hope that our experience will be beneficial for the district of Prague 3,” she said.

“Our cooperation will mainly consist in passing on our experience to the Roma counsellor, but it will also be about activating young Roma people and organizing a two-day cultural program in Prague 3 at the end of September this year,” Silajdžić said. The working group will help the Roma advisor to identify current problems of the Roma community, suggest ways to address the situation of the Roma minority and provide assistance for the coordination of project activities and events.

“The project is a complete and interconnected set of activities, at the center of which is the Romani councilor, who can draw on the knowledge of the local authority and the non-profit organizations with which she will work closely” , said project manager Ivana. Parobkova. “For the activities to be carried out successfully, the project also focuses on broadening horizons through internships with partner organizations or abroad.”

“Lastly and most importantly, the project targets activities directly supporting the Roma minority through educational workshops, and targets the general public through cultural events to bring Roma culture closer together,” Parobková said. The new Roma Councilor for Prague 3 then added: “This whole project seems like a great idea to me, and I think that its implementation will certainly make a significant contribution to supporting the Roma community in an area where Roma are the minority. most represented national. .”

“I think Roma inclusion is a very topical topic that is important to pay attention to,” said the new Roma councilor. The creation of the post is part of a project for which the Municipal Department of Prague 3 has received financial support from Grants Norway.

As part of the project, a two-day cultural program is planned for the end of September, as well as an event to commemorate the Holocaust and its Roma victims. Educational workshops for residents of the Roma minority will also be prepared.

Berta D. Wells