002The weekend of 10-12 October saw Slezska Diakonie celebrate 25 years of service provision in the Czech Republic.

Starting from 1 service in 1990 and now providing over 100 different services and being a major employer in the Czech Silesian area, there was a lot to celebrate. There was an opportunity to share memories with partners past and present and to reflect on the life of Pastor Vladislav Santorius who inspired many in the Silesan Czech Church of the Augsburg Confession to develop their commitment to social justice. But it was not all about looking backwards. The same weekend saw the opening of a major new facility for Slezska Diakonie – the multi million euro Diaconal Vocational and Educational Centre. This centre is a multipurpose building. In one area there are classrooms and training workshops for teenagers and young adults with disabilities to learn skills for both employment and independent living. There is also supported accommodation for people with disabilities in two self-contained apartments, a library and educational centre for students of Diaconia and social work and a museum recording the history of the Lutheran church and Diaconia in the Silesian region.

The centre has been built with the financial support of the Regional Development Agency as it will contribute to both economic growth and social cohesion in the area. Enabling people to work is key for the inclusion of people with disabilities and the DVC will be integrated with other social enterprises and supported work places run by Slezska Diakonie. Heather Roy, Eurodiaconia Secretary General represented the network at the celebration weekend and gave greetings on behalf of all of the Eurodiaconia network.