About workshop Elias
Dílna Eliáš, z.s. - Elias Workshop (CSO)
The social therapeutic workshop Dílna Eliáš ("Elias Workshop") is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, providing social services to people with learning disorders, physical and combined disabilities.
The organization was founded by three students in Autumn 1997 in order to create a pottery workshop where people with various disabilities could use their skills, reach further development and find their place in the society. The students came back from school practice in Association La Branche in Switzerland. They were willing to create a new and very needed place here and were promised to get support from La Branche. The artist and therapist Horst Altfeld helped them in their begginings and he (together with his wife) was the one who created the molds for many of the beautiful shapes of the art made in the wokshop until these days.
In the beginning, the organization operated as part of the Association for Curative Education and Social Therapy ("Spolek pro léčebnou pedagogiku a léčebnou terapii"), which was founded at the same time, but it had been an independent subject already since 2001.
Working with people (clients) in the pottery workshop soon inspired members of the organization to think about new projects that were missing in the country. They founded a weekday residential care facility called Společenství Dobromysl (can be translated as"Good Mind Society") in Srbeč near the town of Rakovník. Some time later (in 2005), another project was founded - the Eliášův obchod ("Elias shop"), which served as a supported workplace for people with disabilities and where many goods were being sold - not only from our pottery workshop, but also from many other non-profit organizations from all of the country.
In the first years both the shop and the pottery workshop were led by one team, but this showed to be inconvenient in the long-term point of view. So, in summer 2012, the organization divided in two parts. The Dílna Eliáš ("Elias Workshop") works with people with disabilities in the pottery workshop (still located in Eliášova street no. 20), while Eliášův obchod ("Elias shop) is now under a new NGO called Via Roseta. You can find the shop close to Vítězné náměstí and they also have a new atelier at Bořislavka. Both places now operate independently and have a good relationship with each other.
Now about the Dílna Eliáš as we know it today:
The Elias pottery workshop commenced its activity on 5th January, 1998 in Eliášova street no. 20 in Prague 6. The barrier-free and wheelchair accessible space was provided by the Jedličkův ústav Foundation (Nadace Jedličkova Ústavu) free-of-charge. Later the workshop was officialy registered as a social service in the category of social rehabilitation for people with learning and combined disabilites. The majority of clients were former students of Jedličkův ústav (a famous institute and school for physically disabled young people in Prague).
In 2012 the property was sold and our organization has been having to pay high rent ever since. With a combination of great effort and luck and God's will we still manage to do so.
The people (clients) who work in the workshop are still adults with learning disorders, physical handicaps and combined disabilities, often severe, but now they are not necessarily former students of Jedličkův ústav anymore - they come from a wide range of backgrounds.
Since January 2014 the social service provided by Dilna Elias is not social rehabilitation (sociální rehabilitace) anymore, but we have become a social therapeutic workshop (sociálně-terapeutická dílna). The change was only formal and was made to do justice in better describing the social services that are actually provided.
Our mission and aim is to support the people in their independence.Working in the workshop helps them learn new skills, fulfil their potential and find their place in the society. We support their independence, especially in the area of self-care and responsibility for their own life. We would like to create a space where everyone can fulfil their life meaningfully.
In the workshop people usually work with clay. They work on various projects. Ceramic is made by hand, on the pottery wheel and also by a special technique of pressing clay into plaster moulds. We recieved the technology, as well as many plaster and rubber moulds and other equipment and production facilities from a curative-therapeutic workshop called Vaudésy Keramik in Association La Branche - Savigny in Switzerland. This method of pottery production is, besides other, based on several relatively simple activities, that can be carried out even by people with a very serious disability. That is why the motto of our workshop is "Everybody is great at something." ("Každý něco dokáže").
The products can be found in our cathalogue
In 2015 we also started creating beautiful handmade candles from bee wax together with our clients. In winter the workshop gets very cold and working with the warm and natural wax is a very pleasant alternative to the cold clay.
The social service is provided free of charge to our clients, they do not pay anything. The main source of funds for the Elias pottery workshop are grants from public resources - the Prague City Hall (MHMP), we have also been supported by the Municipal District of Praha 6. We try to raise funds for covering at least a part of the expenses by selling our products and we try to approach new sponsors and donors.
Clients of the workshops
Our clients are adult people with combined disabilities and learning disorders. The age range is between 18 - 65 years. Eight clients come to the workshop every day and now we provide the service to 25 people altogether.
Life in the workshop
The workshop is open from Monday to Friday and it's capacity is 8 clients every day. Most clients come into the workshop twice or three times a week.
We always meet at 9 AM inside the workshop. At 9:30 we begin the day together by excercising, singing and telling a prayer and then we start working. Every client has their own individual plan. Clients work on it with the support of a therapist (it can be a wide range of activities - eg. learning to use the washing mashine, cookung, seeking a job etc.). And others work together in a group, usually with clay. At 11 AM there is time for a break and afterwards we continue to work until lunch at 1 PM. Time after lunch is dedicated to resting and then at 2 PM the afternoon artistic - therapeutical activities start (music therapy on Tuesdays and art therapy on Thursdays).
We still remember the roots of the workshop grow from the philosophy of anthroposophy. Experiencing the natural rhytm of the year with the changing seasons plays an important role in running the workshop. We revive the traditions by telling stories, reading, singing and painting. Some of them, like the day of St. John and St. Michael, are celebrated together with our friends in similar organizations (eg. Dílna Gawain).
Cooperation with other organization
Elias workshop is a member of Association for Curative Education and Social Therapy ("Spolek pro léčebnou pedagogiku a sociální terapii"). We cooperate with a number of anthroposophic workshops and schools - with the Tabor Academy of Social Arts (Akademie Sociálního umění Tabor), Dobromysl Society, Gawain textile workshop, Atelier Tilia, Lemniskáta workshop, Jinan workshop and with the Camphill in České Kopisty.
Every year a number of students of social and teaching schools choose Dílna Eliáš as the place for their practical training.
Visitors are always welcome in our workshop and almost every year children from primary schools come to see the environment, as well as students from abroad (last year two classes of high school students from Austria visited us).