Police want to get the homeless into shelters

The city has a program to help inform those at rich of places they can go

Metropolitan Police in Prague has started taking measures to help people living on the street as cold weather sets in.

The temperatures will soon drop below freezing and stay there for extended periods. The police will be cooperating with other institutions to help people at risk during the next few months.

The police began their winter measures earlier this month already when temperatures began to fall below freezing during the night but the days were still relatively warm. The early days of the change in temperatures often have a large impact, as people have not had a chance to adapt.

“While police officers often monitor homelessness during the year, dealing with common situations such as disturbances in public places, begging, drinking alcohol in banned areas, and other problems, in the winter months, police officers focus primarily on making sure the cold doesn’t take its toll on their lives,” Metropolitan Police spokesman Irena Seifertová said in a press release.

People can also help the police by talking to anyone who seems to be at risk and assessing their situation.

“If during the cold weather you find someone lying, sleeping, or sitting in the street, even if they are not homeless. It is good to ask whether they are well, and if they are not in good health, call the rescue service at phone number 155 or contact the city police emergency number 156, even in case of suspicion. Life is the most valuable thing we have,” Seifertová said.

Police in the winter work on finding the homeless in likely spots such as forests, parks, abandoned buildings and under bridges. The police then try to prevent tragedies from happening by informing the homeless of services such as shelters.

As of Nov. 21, the homeless have been able to use the boat Hermes free of charge. It is a freight boat built in 1962 that was converted in 2006 to social housing for men and women over 18.

Winter dormitories in Michle and Vackova will open their doors as of Dec. 1. The opening hours of these institutions start in the evening and end in the morning. The winter program will last until March 31.

There are also some day centers where homeless people can stay in free chairs overnight during periods of extreme cold when the capacity of the other hostels is exhausted. Hot beverages, basic snacks and a chance to tend to personal hygiene are also provided.
These shelters usually have a condition of sobriety on the part of the clients. During the winter season, some moderate use of alcohol is tolerated.

The dispatching center for social services is also in operation in Prague and can coordinate with non-profit groups and charities that also have programs to help the homeless.

The Metropolitan Police are involved in this cooperation and can give the homeless information on these options.

One program to help the homeless is run by the Salvation Army, which takes donations specifically to provide shelter during the winter, with Kč 100 going to help a specific person.

In the past, the city has created camps with heated tents if the cold weather becomes extreme for an extended period. So far, the weather has not required this step this year.

Alcohol use to can has a big impact on the homeless, as it creates the illusion of warmth but does not actually protect from the cold. People on the street also sometimes make fires to get warm, and these can grow out of control with fatal consequences. These are additional factors that put the homeless at risk and make it urgent that they get to shelters.

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