Image above: Vojtěch Bartošík, one of the secretaries of EUCAP, views the space reserved for the office.
One of the founding members of EUCAP, the Czech non-profit Adventor, is poised to start the operation of EUCAP’s central office, providing the space, equipment and volunteers that make this possible. The community centre Kopec, home to Adventor’s projects and ongoing services such as peer groups and open café meetings, will dedicate a section of one of its rooms to this purpose (image above).
Kopec occupies a spacious underground complex of old cellar spaces in Prague’s Nové Město, New Town – with a surprising recent addition, since a medieval well was discovered behind one of its walls and claimed as a useful storage room. Kopec is half an hour’s drive from the airport, and 1.4 kilometres from the railway station. Within walking distance, or a short tram ride away, are the scenic Vltava river and many of the historical attractions of the city.
Kopec is currently undergoing extensive renovation. Once completed, it will offer facilities that allow EUCAP meetings to be organised in Prague with relative ease. There will be a well-equipped meeting space that can be separated from the adjoining café area by a soundproof partition. When necessary, the two rooms can be used in combination to provide extra space for larger meetings. An arts and crafts room next to the meeting space can be used as quiet room or for group discussions.
Prague was chosen as the location for the EUCAP office for several reasons. The ability of Adventor and Kopec to provide facilities and organisers was one of them. Being located in the middle of Europe was another, as this minimizes travel distances, expenses and environmental impact of travel for a maximum number of EUCAP members.
Apart from having meetings and learning from each other, visitors may find that they can learn from observing Kopec and the local projects in operation. Adventor has been running projects for several years, starting in 2015 with the Reintegration (ReIn) project, designed to support young autistic people to find their way back to society after going through challenging life situations. The current project, POST (1), will end in April 2020, and a new one, PARTA (2), will start in January. Both POST and PARTA are funded jointly by the European Social Fund and the state of the Czech Republic. They focus on developing Adventor’s novel one-stop-shop type service where autistic people act as project leaders, coordinators, peer counsellors, job coaches and assistants, among other things. The range of services is broad, covering for example life management counselling, employment support, therapies, drama-based practice, ceramics and art classes, and a wall climbing club.
(1) POST is an acronym for the Czech name of the project which means Support of persons on the autism spectrum towards permanent employment and social integration
(2) PARTA is an acronym for the Czech name of the project which means Support of people on the autism spectrum and their families towards social integration and independence by therapy and counseling