The ECCB’s Diaconia helps prepare people with disabilities, even those with alcoholic dementia, for work.

Diaconia’s centre in Valašské Meziříčí runs (among other things) two clothing stores and a cleaning company. This autumn, a chocolate-candy producing factory has been added to the list. The trouble is, not all workers are able to keep their job, especially those with a learning disability. They are often unable to handle all the demands of the job, such as working independently, and decide to quit, despite being skilled and motivated.  Diaconia’s centre in Valašské Meziříčí is now striving to find ways to help these people keep their jobs.

It has turned out that the weakest point is actually the very beginning, as nobody has time to train people with special needs: explain all the things they need to keep track of and watch out for, and supervise them afterward to make sure this is really happening.  Diaconia in Valašské Meziříčí has therefore launched its own work-training programme, called Matteo.

Plant and you shall see

A dozen people are strolling around a forest clearing, collecting branches and stacking them into two large piles. The majority are older-looking men, most of whom suffer from some type of alcoholic dementia. They often have serious problems with short-term memory, some also with motor skills. All of them live in the nearby town of Pržno, in a special-regime home. They need help and supervision by specialised staff on a daily basis, but there are many activities they are able to do independently.

Matteo práce na pasece 6This is why the clients of the Pržno home welcomed Diaconia’s offer to implement its programme, training people with disabilities for the performance of a job. The programme focuses on individual work with each client, based on their specific needs. This often involves repeatedly inquiring about what the clients enjoy doing and what they don’t, where they are lacking experience and what they simply don’t feel like doing, what they are unable to do because of their disability, what motivates them and what discourages them. All of this is necessary to increase the chances that these people, who often have not worked for several years, will succeed in a new job.

This is just the beginning of the course called “Gardener, Maintenance Man”. Irena Šustková, one of the organisers, who has just spent the first working day in the forest clearing with the clients, is happy with her group. Most of the clients have done a great deal of work, which means they will soon be able to continue with the next activity: planting trees.

25 people, of whom 12 should find a permanent job, are to take part in the whole training programme, which consists of several courses. These are the conditions under which the subsidy, thanks to which the programme can actually take place, was granted. So far, nine clients have passed the programme, five of which are currently looking for a job. Two female clients are being trained as cleaning ladies at Diaconia. One of the men who also took the programme is already working as an assistant cook at Pržno home, where he also lives.

Adam Šůra