Salvation Army is preparing for winter

People can donate money to cover the cost of one night’s stay in a shelter

Winter is coming. The Salvation Army has set up facilities to help people without shelter in the cold weather. Across the Czech Republic, they will offer 2,000 beds in dormitories and shelters, with 350 in Prague. Other organizations in Prague provide more than 1,200 beds.

People can help by purchasing vouchers for Kč 100, which will allow one homeless person to sleep inside for one night. The vouchers can be purchased online. People who buy the vouchers do not need to hand them out personally. The Salvation Army takes care of that. Each voucher has a number, and people who donated can find out who used the voucher and where.

The Salvation Army has facilities in Prague, Brno, Karlovy Vary, Ostrava, Krnov, Opava, Jirkov, Šumperk and Havířov.

Homeless people normally pay a symbolic fee of Kč 30 to Kč 45 crowns for one night in a Salvation Army dormitory. But this does not cover the actual costs, which are between Kč 100 and Kč 200 per person.

Aside from a bed, the homeless person is also provided with soup, bread, and a warm drink, and they have the opportunity to take a shower and attend to personal hygiene. Warm clothing and shoes are also available.

“We watch the weather closely and every year we try to prepare our services for homeless people far in advance so anyone from the street who comes to ask for help will have the opportunity to spend the freezing days and nights in our facilities,” Jan František Krupa, the Salvation Army national director of Social Services of the Salvation Army. Last year, the program was very successful. The Salvation Army recorded 20,000 visits to its facilities, and people bought 30,000 vouchers.

Money not used in the winter goes to a special fund. Recently, this fund helped pay for hospice care so a person could spend the last week of his life in a dignified setting and not on the street.

The organization also has a night-time program in Prague. Every night, field workers go to places where people without shelter can be found. They are asked to move to dormitories.

The Salvation Army’s services are partly funded by state, regional and urban subsidies, but this does not meet all the costs. Krupa says the decentralized way money is distributed is a stumbling block, as each region has its own policies.

The Salvation Army is constantly trying to improve its services. Its center in Prague’s Holešovice district has been partly renovated, and a new center is being built in Ostrava. A large part of the funding will be provided by the European Union.

For more information on donating visit www.noclezenka.cz or www.darujme.cz

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