How everything has started...
At first, we were very sceptical, as we have been addressed by Ms. Dagmar McGill, a president of the international organization Big Brothers Big Sisters International, and offered the possibility to establish a voluntary programme in the Czech Republic before 1996. We could not imagine that in that time of a newly developing society could be found a place for any voluntary activity. We were afraid, we will not be able to find any volunteers and, in case we will, the volunteers will be “somehow weird”, the public will look down on them, the programme will not be viable in the long–term and so on.
We were thus very sceptical. On the other hand, it seemed to us that if the programme works in other countries, then why not in the Czech Republic, and so we started to choose and train volunteers. At first, the programme was coordinated by the organization Open Society Found and, since 1998, by the civil association HESTIA – the national volunteer centre.
After the first scepticism, we found out that the volunteers who have signed for the programme are mostly pleasant young people, usually university students, who have undergone our quite hard training with enthusiasm, willingly let themselves be tested, and have perceived a friendly relationship with a chosen child as inspiring and enjoyable.
Given the fact that the 5P programme has quickly expanded in the whole Czech Republic, we agreed with our regional partners, that in 2011, we create a national association of the 5P in the Czech Republic. The association is an umbrella civil organisation and on the 27th of September 2001, a five–year existence of the 5P programme in the Czech Republic, has been festively adopted as a member of the international organisation Big Brothers Big Sisters International.
Since 1995, the 5P programme has undergone development not only in quantitative aspects. Also, we have gradually completed methodology and focused on the setting of standards enabling other organisations to join as well.
In 2004, the programme has been established in 20 subsidiaries in 18 cities. The number of operations, activities, training, supervisions, and other work connected with the programme’s realisation can be seen in the following table. In the successful realisation of the programme participate dozens of professionals and coordinators in particular regions.
Many thanks to everyone who has overcome their distrust and is thus helping the hundreds of children to find a new friend – and maybe even a positive hero for their future lives. Above all, I would like to thank our volunteers who give their time, energy, and feelings to the children, often missing a friend listening to them.