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Czech Republic: poverty is passed down from one generation to the next. Youths are the main victims

A national Report by Caritas Czech Republic highlights the main causes of poverty. The highest-risk groups are low-income, marginalized families, along with single parents. The commitment of the ecclesial Charity institution that has initiated assistance, support and education programs, along with social and professional services

(Foto: AFP/SIR)

Family indebtedness, lack of housing and lack of structures are among the main problems underlying poverty and social exclusion of young people in the Czech Republic. The recent Report by Caritas Czech Republic does not just point out the difficult situation of young people, it offers guidance aimed at practical solutions, albeit not in the short term. In addition to managing 40 shelter homes for parents with needy children, 69 “low-threshold” facilities for children and young people and 59 centres offering social services to families with children, the country’s largest charitable institution has requested systematic solutions especially for critical cases.

Manifold causes. Poor “financial education” coupled by the lack of legislative tools to alleviate the enormous indebtedness of young people constitute the main cause of their poverty. Approximately 4.6 million foreclosures are currently taking place, 14 thousand of which involve youths under the age of 18. Caritas experts define it the “intergenerational transmission” of poverty, which means that

many young people were born into socially marginalized families and have virtually no positive model they can draw inspiration from

in terms of handling financial resources or lifestyle, thus they don’t know how to improve their situation. “It’s a systematic problem with various causes, that includes their parents’ irresponsibility, inadequate legislation, but also judges’ indifference or judicial errors in handling special cases. Even eight year-old children are subjected to court proceedings for indebtedness” said Alena Vlachova, lawyer, coordinator of the project “Children without debts”

Social rights?  Caritas pointed out that even single mothers with children are faced with the same problems. “Our labour market lacks flexible jobs needed by these mothers who have nobody to help them with their children”, said Lukas Curylo, local Caritas director.

According to recent figures, 35% of low-paid single parents live in poverty.

Both single parents and youths with low education levels – who are thus in low-income jobs – find it hard to find appropriate housing. Moreover, this problem extends beyond the Czech Republic. For the Secretary General of Caritas Europe Jorge Nuňo Mayer the measures defined under the European Pillar of Social Rights, recently launched by the EU, providing for equal opportunities in the job market, fair working conditions and social inclusion, need to be implemented .

Vocational training and legislative constraints. There are about 68,500 homeless people in the Czech Republic, while 119 thousand people risk losing their permanent housing. According to Caritas, there is an urgent need to take this group of people to heart with changes in the social system and to prevent them from contracting diseases, being exposed to drug-related discrimination and consequent exclusion from normal social life.

Caritas has created several social enterprises that offer employment primarily to people experiencing difficult situations.

Families and individuals in situations of financial and material distress receive vocational training provided by social enterprises, while Caritas experts have submitted proposals focused on a new understanding of social housing to public authorities. Moreover, the recommendations contained in the Report call for the elimination of legislative constraints that hinder the overcoming of indebtedness and discourage individuals from seeking well-paid jobs. “The struggle for a fairer system enabling marginalized brackets to integrate into normal social life is the focus of our charitable activity. That’s why our practical experience is so special: it enables us to develop targeted recommendations based on practical needs”, Lukas Curylo concluded. For further information: www.charita.cz.

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