Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Give Yourself a Job – Ecochance
Project number A0422

Project description

The Partnership was established with a view in establishing a system to enable entry or re-entry of illicit drug addicts and HIV-infected people to the labour market. Partnership members are institutions and organisations that have been working for years with addicts and HIV/AIDS-infected persons. According to their estimates, the number of such persons is continuing to rise and unemployment rate is particularly high among them (50% and 90% respectively). Special centres provide them with therapy and assistance in addiction quitting. However, a follow-up support system, helping them to resume occupational and social activities is still to be established. Some of the addicts may benefit from family support. Some of them are entitled to welfare benefits, but labour market institutions fail to provide with any offer. Project participants lack vocational education, working habits and assertive skills that would enable them to perform on the labour market and establish social relationships. It should be noted that over 70% of those aged 20 to 39, or in the prime of working age, may safely operate in the society due to the progress in medicine. Stigmatisation they encounter in social relationships is the key reason behind their inability to find a job and re-exclusion.

High quality of treatment is in mismatch with integration system for ex-addicts. In fact, the system is lacking. There are no occupation integration or skill improvement/updating programmes. Despite the awareness campaigns, misconceptions regarding the risks associated with contacting HIV-infected persons are still prevalent in Poland. Only an integrated system of therapy, education and employment for addicted persons, combined with joint efforts of various groups promoting their social integration, is likely to change this situation.

Partnership's activities will involve patients of rehabilitation/re-adaptation and those in danger of exclusion from the local community. Some of the beneficiaries (561 of them) will participate in the entire Project, while some (1063 persons) in selected modules only. Wandzin-based Eko-School of Life was selected as the centre of reference under the Project. Biodiversity is the focus of the centre's operations, which include reintroduction of traditional plant and animal species, generation of environment-friendly energy, crop production and processing. Patients are provided with work therapy and the activities are intended to obtain the organic farming certificate, so that an internal employment market is established for them.

Patients are working under a two-prong system. The addiction quitting therapy is combined with training in social skills development, labour market and enterprise basics. Learning computer skills and vocational training in budding and other similar trades combined with placements in the centres will constitute the second component of the Project. Moreover, the Environmental Education Centre will be established under the Project to deliver workshops in agricultural biodiversity, as well as hands-on training in animal husbandry and cultivation of traditional plant and animal species. Centre managers will be trained in organic farm management, legal aspects of running a business and distribution/sales of organic products.

Each centre will specialise in a different field. Environmental programmes will focus on: biomass fuel production, apiculture, environment-friendly construction, cultivation of medicine plants and maintenance of mature parks. The Centre of Horse Breeding, Hippo therapy and Equitation will be
established to provide patients with training in therapeutic activities. Everyday working routine in the centre is expected to help the beneficiaries in regaining self-esteem, while providing tangible income contributing to the sustainability of the centres.

Partnership will establish a Forum for Employment and two service/information centres to provide ex-patients and HIV/AIDS-infected persons with support and facilitate their access to information and communication technology. Computers with Internet access will be available at the centres operating as experience sharing platforms and job databanks.

The Project is bridging a labour market policy gap by addressing the problem of occupational reintegration of ex-addicts, HIV-infected persons and AIDS victims. Dissemination activities will be intended to promote pro-active approaches to therapy, good practice sharing and promotion of positive role models. A proven approach combining therapy, education and work, as developed and tested by the Partnership, will be presented to international conference. The focus of dissemination activities will be on changing the attitude to those who have successfully completed the therapy so that they are perceived as rightful members of the society and efficient workers.