A year of living in solidarity: lessons from social engagement in the midst of Covid, as seen by Nevypusť duši

EESC Info asked Nevypusť duši, Czech winner of the EESC Civil Solidarity Prize, to tell our readers how the project was born, how people have responded to it and how the prize money will help their organisation grow up. Project manager Iva Kolevová answered our questions.

What prompted you to start your project?

We were responding to the situation that emerged during the pandemic. The first feedback we got from the grassroots (and then data from other sources) after schools were closed showed that young people and children were not doing too well psychologically. We knew we would be able to help them with our know-how and all that was needed was to get information to them.

How has your project been received? Have you received any feedback from the people you helped? (Can you give us an example, if you have any?)

The scheme was very warmly welcomed, especially by the schools we had already worked with. We were surprised to start getting calls from schools that had no previous experience with us. Of course, things changed as the epidemiological situation evolved and schools were closed and opened. Our work was more needed at some times than at others.

How will you use this specific funding to provide further help in the community? Are you already planning any new projects?

We want to use the funds for the development of our team members, without whose (often freely donated) time we would not be able to implement the project so quickly and efficiently. We want to give them enough support and training. At the same time, we are thinking about other projects, not only in the field of support for children, but also in relation to teachers (we are already starting to pilot some of them).

What advice would you give to other organisations in terms of achieving results with such activities and programmes?

Communicating with all concerned is undoubtedly important: be it with the people for whom their service, product or assistance is intended, with professionals in the field in which they operate or with other non-profit and other organisations. This way they can find common synergies and create projects efficiently. You also need to care for the team of people running the project itself, whatever it may be, because together we can always do more.