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#OurStories: The city of Tábor takes cooperation with the Roma community as an opportunity

Department 58 – International Relations
Department 58 – International Relations



In Tábor city (South Bohemia), two projects supported by the Human Rights program intertwine, both closely linked, yet each different. Thanks to the ´All Together´ project, the working positions of two Roma counselors and a crime prevention assistant were created at the city hall. The effort is both to involve the Roma community and to strengthen its responsibility for current events in the city. In addition, the project connects the cooperation of all other actors on the way to the set goal.

Non-profit organization Cheiron T, o.p.s., as part of a project motivating education, works with children and youth in two leisure clubs and, in cooperation with Roma counselors and a field worker, explains the importance of education to children and parents. 

Cheiron T

The "All Together" project brought together entities that deal with the inclusion of the Roma minority in Tábor: the municipal office, schools, social workers, the city police, and experts on housing, employment and debt counseling. It also tries to improve communication between the minority and the majority part of society. "Thanks to the Norwegian Funds, we were able to tailor the project to our current situation," boasts Mayor of Tábor Štěpán Pavlík. And after a year and a half, it bears the first results.

Two Roma advisors bridge the gap, each from one side

Since last year, Lenka Pokošová and Michal Kulhavý have been working at the municipal office in Tábor in the new positions of Roma advisors. From the beginning, they did a questionnaire to map what the Tábor Roma are most passionate about, and now their daily bread is to help the Roma community with everyday problems.

Romští poradci

Michal Kulhavý – Roma advisor of Tábor city                 Lenka Pokošová – Roma advisor of Tábor city

"After a year of working together, I have to say that it is very beneficial that we have come together as a team like this. We complement each other," Michal Kulhavý comments that, while he belongs to the majority group, his colleague Lenka Pokošová is part of the Roma minority. In one breath, he adds that after a year, it was possible to move from the initial mistrust and skepticism of the Roma towards the novelty in the form of two city Roma advisors to a state where the Roma already trust them more, and they cooperate with some of them on joint events.

His colleague, Roma counselor Lenka Pokošová, speaks openly about her mission: "Our goal is to improve communication between the majority and the minority, reduce discrimination and end the division of camps into Roma and whites." She adds that concrete results are already visible: "The Roma people are already starting to get involved. For example, we helped Marcela Bikárová, who has been leading the Čiriklore dance troupe for a long time, to get money from the foundation to organize a one-day folklore show on Roma Day. Bands and dance troupes from here and further afield performed there," Lenka recounts.


Den Romů v Táboře

Roma Day in Tábor, May 2023 (photo: Tábor municipality)

Her colleague Michal agrees: "Among the Roma, there are a lot of clever children and adults who do a lot of high-quality things: Roma music, dance. The problem is that they lack leaders, organizers and the people able to implement the ideas or find the funds for them. Now, after a year, the Roma turn to us with a request for help with the organization of their own ideas - in this way, for example, a new Roma festival is created, which takes place in Žižka Square in August." According to the Roma advisors, the residents of Tábor respond positively to these activities, and the local Roma can thus show them that they can do something.


Erik Kováč is even closer to Roma children and families. As a child, he wanted to be a police officer. Now, his dream has partially come true: in Tábor, he wears the uniform of a Crime Prevention Assistant. He grew up in Fišlovka, an excluded locality in Tábor. Today, he regularly visits the place and other problematic locations (the city center or the bus station) for work. The community recognizes him and he likes: "I enjoy being in the streets. And then, when I go home and know that I have prevented a crime, or someone from harming someone, it warms my heart. People thank me, they feel safer," says the likable Roma guy. He also does his work for the safety of his children: "Tábor is a nice town. It would be a shame if we were to fight each other here," smiles Erik, adding that even in his leisure he shows the Roma children how to spend time more meaningfully, than by hanging around and making riots. So, he takes the boys fishing or teaches them to play the drums.

Erik Kováč

Erik Kováč, Crime Prevention Assistant in Tábor

The mayor of Tábor highlights the work of the two counselors and the Crime Prevention Assistant: "They go out and work directly with specific people, families and children. And we're very happy that it works."

School as a base

The common theme of the work is education. Roma counselors Lenka and Michal often discuss with parents the importance of education, including preschool. Fieldworker Erik, on the other hand, looks for truants around town and sends them to school with shame. "I motivate the boys to go to school and tell them: one day, you can wear a uniform like me. One day you can do a job that you will enjoy, and not that you will watch people from the dugout," says the Crime Prevention Assistant, adding that although he himself was not one of the flukes at school if he had more support in his own family, he would have made it certainly further.

The second project supported by Norway Grants, implemented by the non-profit organization Cheiron T, also focuses on education. Its director, Roman Varga, explains: "In the project, we focus on the overall climate in the school because many Roma children drop out of the common activities of the class. The reason may be either finance or a lack of motivation on the part of the parents, who do not see the point in the child ´living´ with his class." Other project activity brings the Roma minority and the majority society closer together via leisure activities. It is said that the biggest challenge is to convince some parents to send their children to kindergarten not only for the mandatory last year before entering primary school but from an early age.


Ředitel Cheironu  Roman Varga

Roman Varga, director of Cheiron-T

A leisure club with an overlap into social work

Cheiron in Tábor runs two clubs for children and youth. Cheiron Club is in the center, and Bejvák Club is in the Nad Lužnicí housing estate. However, leisure activities are only a means of talking with children about what troubles them and to help them. Thanks to the Norway Grants, Cheiron could afford things that are not common and pay a special pedagogue, an art therapist and a music therapist who work with the children. They would like to keep the tried-and-tested things even after the end of the project. "Activities make sense, develop the children and the children have fun," says director Roman Varga. "The entire field of social services is severely underfunded, and we as social workers are trying to learn something from experts paid by the project. We will carry that with us in our work," concludes Roman.

Bejvák leirure club in Nad Lužnicí housing estate

Recommendations for other cities?

After the completion and evaluation of the projects, Tábor is ready to share its experience with other municipalities. However, as the mayor of Tábor, Štěpán Pavlík, points out: "It is such a specific area that we cannot transmit the solution to every city in the same way. But I recommend - take an interest in the possibility of using this path," he praises the use of Roma counselors, a crime prevention assistant and the linking of cooperation across all disciplines, as well as cooperation with a non-profit organization working with children. "It's worth it. We are grateful that it works," concludes the mayor.


Starosta města Tábor

Mayor of Tábor Štěpán Pavlík while filming a video about the projects

More info: All Together
More info: Tábor municipality 
More info: Cheiron T


Projekts "All Together" and a "Motivation For Education From Kindergarten To High School - Support For Children and Parents" are supported by Norway Grants via Human Rights Programme. The aim of the programme is to improve the situation in the area of human rights (including domestic and gender-based violence) and fight against discrimination and extremism in the Czech Republic. The program supports the implementation of human rights standards in the Czech Republic. It is also directly aimed at supporting vulnerable groups at high risk of discrimination and social exclusion, such as the Roma.

More about the programme: Human Rights
More about Norway Grants: EEA and Norway Grants 

Project names: All Together / Motivation For Education From Kindergarten To High School - Support For Children and Parents
Project promoters: Tábor municipality / Cheiron T, o.p.s.
Project partners: Cheiron T, o.p.s.  / Tábor municipality
Programme: Human Rights
Grant: 2 568 543  CZK  /  2 916 901 CZK
Cíl projektu: The project "All together" strengthens the voice of the Roma community and its responsibility in solving current issues in the territory under the administration of Tábor municipality. The city employs two Roma advisors who cooperate with various departments of the city office, schools, non-profit organizations, the police and the Roma community itself. The goal of the project is a more consistent solution to pressing problems within the Roma minority, such as education, unemployment, housing, social exclusion or youth crime.
The goal of the project "Motivation for education" is to solve the failure of Roma children in the educational system in Tábor using the tools of social work, leisure and special pedagogy, through mutually complementary activities aimed at parents, children and experts.The project focuses on motivating parents towards realizing the importance of all levels of education.