How did you come up with the idea?
We were three students, me and my former colleagues. We were studying « civil sectors study » here in Prague and had a class of social entrepreneurship. Our teacher invites us to have a look on the Social Effect award, which is a competition and incubator of social projects. After the program, we come up with the idea kind of randomly. We hadn’t any experience working with homeless people.
So it was in the frame of a school project?
Not really, the competition ran separately. Actually, through this award, we get to know many other projects, mainly abroad, in Austria. It was 4 years ago, so you can imagine that social entrepreneurship wasn’t very developed here in Czech Republic. It was very inspiring to see what can be done in that field and before we came back home (from Austria), we find the idea, that is making tour through Prague with homeless people.
Where did you get the interest about those social project and working with homeless people?
Actually, we were all studying in this « civil sector master » and I previously made a Bachelor in Management of the NGOs. Also, we were all volunteers for a long time, but not with homeless.
How does the project begin: once you found the idea, how do you move to the next step? Did you get help from outside, school for instance?
We didn’t cooperate with the school. Actually after the opening ceremony, two of us decided to apply for the competition, one joined after. There were a series of workshops, we had to go through during the three months, after that in June, we had to create a project on the paper, and officially apply. Then we won the audience price, we get initial money 1500 euros, 3 months in a coworking space, access to some workshops. The idea come up in February and in June we completed the application and won the price.
What are the major difficulties you met? Legislation for instance: how can you declare those homeless workers?
In Republic Czech, there is a basic legislation that covers everything, so in our case we have an employ agreement for them, and they pay 15% tax, up to 10 000 Czech Krones per month, we do not have to pay social tax.
The « normal » employees have to pay 21% of their salaries.
You can imagine that at the beginning, it was very difficult to find the legislation, to learn about the different conditions for the different groups, where we have discount. It was difficult to get a basic orientation, mainly on taxation. We asked many people, but no one could tell us about, so we just put together all the pieces of advices and go for it. Finally, in 2014 we get a proper lawyer that helps us a lot.
And about communication? How do you find the guide?
For us it was easy because we went through organization that help them, especially one called the homeless theater. They had people who were ok to guide tourist, they are very open minded and they love to perform in front of the people.
And on the daily-basis, how do you communicate with them? I mean they do not have internet or even phones?
At the moment we are using cellphones. If they don’t have cellphones, we give them and make sure they have money on their credit card. Even though they all have phones and know how to use it. At the beginning, we try to set appointment, but it was difficult and we do not have money to give them phones.
In the last 4 years, did you often change the guide?
Through the Pragulic they were … its hard to say, maybe 40-45 guides. Some only for the training, some people do not go through the whole process or work with us only a short time.
How much time does the process last?
Training itself is now 2 days, then comes the practicing phase, for some people it takes 2 weeks, for other people it takes 2 months. And before that is the selection process, that can be 2 years or 2 weeks.
Do guides finally get home? Or find a job? Why do they stop working with you?
They usually move out of Prague, or they find another job. In that case they do not want to stop working with us but they have to because of lack of time.
The majority we have to stop cooperation, because of psychologic trouble, this is the major issue, with other health problems.
Do you stay in touch with them?
With some of them, not all of them. For instance, one is working in a school in front of the office, so she come here every day. Others are attending events, for instance playing in a theater play, so we meet there. But if they stop working with us, they will not ask for any kind of support afterwards.