Prague - In early 2011, Albert launched its "Helping Hand" project in the communities where its stores are located. The goal of the project is to offer advice to homeless people in Albert's neighborhoods, while ensuring that Albert customers feel secure and experience a pleasant shopping environment.
Around some Albert stores, customers may encounter homeless people, sometimes in larger groups. This can cause social issues, and Albert has recognized a lack of government intervention to help the situation. For this reason, Albert, in partnership with its security agencies, launched the Helping Hand project in their stores. Security staff employed by the stores approach the homeless people proactively. They advise them on nearby organizations that can provide them with food, clothing or accommodation, they inform them about the help they can get from the government authorities; and they make sure they're aware of whether they are breaching the law or local directives.
Regular store visits
The project includes Helping Hand Patrols that are carried out by two to three employees of a local security company. Their task is to visit the stores that are popular with the homeless, and to ensure that Albert customers and employees feel safe and secure. The patrol members know the environment, are acquainted with the homeless people, and know how to deal with particular situations. “The patrols currently operate in five cities – Prague, Tábor, Brno, Ostrava and Olomouc,” says Jaromír Průša, Risk & Security Manager at Albert, adding: “Since this approach has proved successful in the first few months, we want to expand it to other towns. The issues relating to homeless people does not concern just Prague but other cities too – Břeclav or Boskovice, for instance.”
Whenever necessary, the patrols are in contact with the police, government bodies and non-profit organizations. In Brno, for instance, the project is partnered by the Salvation Army. The goal is to expand this partnership to more non-profit organizations, as well as municipal and government bodies engaged in social policy. So far, the patrols have brought valuable insights to Albert.