In connection with the termination of the lease of the contact center (CC) for drug addicts in Mahenová street, the Czech Streetwork Association (ČAS) called in an open letter to the City Hall of Prague 5 to extend the notice period and, in cooperation with the Prague municipality, to find new premises where it could work. This follows from a letter addressed to the mayor of Prague’s fifth district, Renáta Zajíčková (ODS), which was provided to ČTK by ČAS director Martina Zikmundová.
KC in Mahenova street near the U Zvonu tram stop has been run by the non-profit organization Progressive for almost 20 years. The management of Prague 5 decided to close the new center in July this year, stating that the organization must vacate the premises within six months, ČTK Zajíčková shared. The municipality has been criticizing the presence of a large number of drug addicts in the area for a long time.
“This step of ending the activity of the contact center in Prague 5 without a compensation solution is not an effective situation, it has significantly worsened the current situation not only within the Prague 5 district, but also in Prague,” said Zikmundová.
Together with the director of the Progressive organization Vojtěch Janouškovec, ČAS therefore recommends that Prague 5 extend the notice period for the existing center in Mahenova Street from the current six to 12 months. During that time, new premises for KC should be found, which would be owned by Prague 5 or the Prague municipality.
According to Zikmundová and Janoušek, in the event of the closure of the KC in Prague 5 without the creation of a new one in other premises, supportive social services will be more difficult to access for the residents of Prague who are struggling with addiction. According to them, health will be at risk, among other things, due to the higher risk of spreading infectious diseases.
Zajíčková has long criticized the fact that of the three KCs in the Czech capital, two are in Prague 5, where there is also a substitution treatment clinic. According to her, the municipality should solve the situation with drug addicts in the metropolis by building a network of places where addiction services will be offered.
Together with the representatives of Prague 1 and 2, Zajíčková signed a declaration in 2021 in which the signatories called for this. At the time, some citizens of the city also called for a solution to the situation with drug addicts in the streets of Prague in a petition.
The plan, which proposes how services should be distributed in the capital and how they should have capacity, was presented by the municipality in June this year. According to Zajíčková, in a situation where the metropolis has a ready concept for the development of addiction services on its territory, “the termination of the operation of an overloaded center that does not cope with its basic mission and burdens its surroundings is the next logical step”, she now stated on her Facebook.
According to the strategy recently adopted by the municipal administration, the number of KCs in Prague should increase to at least nine. According to the municipality’s plans, the new KC for people with addiction was to be established between 2023 and 2024, Prague councilor Milena Johnová (Praha Sobě), who is in charge of social affairs in Prague, announced in June. According to John, the existing KC should gradually reduce its capacity.
According to the providers of these services in the metropolis, the current capacity of offered addiction services is insufficient. According to an analysis prepared this spring by the Addiction Clinic of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and the General Faculty Hospital in Prague, in 2021 there were about 7,000 people who were clients of contact centers in Prague, compared to about 6,000 a year earlier. Another roughly 10,000 people suffering last year in Prague, the addiction services used outreach programs, outpatient and similar addiction services.