The function of low-threshold clubs is to support children and young people in difficult life situations. They grow up in an environment which is unchallenging, and yet also socially and culturally isolated. They face increased occurrence of socially pathological phenomena such as criminality, drug abuse, prostitution, etc. Clubs offer a safe space and an opportunity to spend time meaningfully, to gain the ability to make independent life decisions and thereby find solutions to one’s problems. Clubs are places with an ambition of bringing positive change to their lives.
The main aims of low-threshold clubs include:
- Working with individuals in their natural environment to help change their social situation.
- Providing support to make dealing with difficult life situations easier.
- Reducing social risk connected with confrontational social situations, their way of life and high risk behaviour.
- Increasing social skills and abilities and therefore also personal competence.
- Encouraging social inclusion into their peer group and society, including participation in local activities.
- Providing all necessary psychological, physical, legal and social protection during the time spent on club premises and also suitable conditions for personal pastimes.
- Preventing or reducing health risks.
- Providing better orientation in their social environment.
Areas of focus of our work at the club are dependent on the children’s age. With children (6 - 13 years of age) we most often concentrate on eliminating truancy, the clubs also represent an alternative to classic afterschool activity clubs of which they could not otherwise afford. It is also a place where they can do their homework in peace.
With the youths (14 - 18 years of age) we try to discourage premature termination of school attendance which usually results in resignation of ambition for a higher level of education.
With young people (19 - 26 years of age) we address the issues of long-term unemployment and dependency on social benefits. With all age groups we address the problem of exposure to addictions and their prevention (alcohol, drugs and gambling). Nor do we avoid other topics, such as relationships, family, health or home economy.
Principles of our work
The clients of the club have the opportunity to confide in us about everything that bothers them. Club workers help them to deal with such problems or provide information on where suitable help could be found. They receive attention and understanding. During group activities, everybody joins in with helping the club function and actively participate in programme creation. In that way rehearsal rooms, sports clubs and ceramics workshops have already sprung up. Apart from their regular activities, clubs organise weekend and holiday activities, such as urban summer camps, international work camps and so on.
Clubs operate according to the basic low-threshold principles (availability – time, space and financial). They create a safe space for their clients. The clients of the club can choose to stay in anonymity. Club workers always respect confidentiality (trust). Freedom choice of the client is respected (voluntariness) eliminating dependency on social services (independency). The services are free.
We currently run altogether seven low-threshold clubs in the Czech Republic and last year alone about one thousand children and young people participated in some of our activities.