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 Back on Track
Project number A0477

Project description

The Partnership was established with a view in reducing social exclusion of the homeless and those in danger of homelessness and - by facilitating labour market access - in counteracting their social stigmatisation.

According to surveys carried out by the partners, the problem of homelessness is inherently related to unemployment. The inability to maintain existing holdings (including the home) due to unemployment often leads to homelessness. On the other hand, being homeless is a factor that prevents job finding or even job seeking. The surveys identified a direct impact of changes in economy on the growth of homelessness (e.g. the closing of tied accommodation facilities run by bankrupt enterprises).

The objective of the Partnership is to introduce a comprehensive approach to dealing with the homeless unemployed so that they are occupationally and socially reintegrated.

Final beneficiaries of the Project are men, women and mothers with children living in shelters and those in danger of homelessness who are welfare assistance recipients and live in social accommodation units. The participants are 18 to 55 years old unemployed people without benefit entitlement. They share common traits that preclude any occupational activity due to long-term unemployment or lack of contact with labour market (invalid certificates, unawareness of modern labour market requirements or inability to operate modern equipment). Most of them are in need of assistance from a professional psychologist.

The Partnership has developed so-called association method: an innovative approach to providing assistance to the unemployed who are homeless or in danger of homelessness. Integration Centres have been established. They are coordinated by accompanists, who specialize in working with long-term unemployed persons and have adequate background based on training in theory and internships. They work with each beneficiary on an individual basis by tailoring the training offer to his/her needs and capabilities. They provide assistance, discuss any progress made and, upon beneficiary's request, can help him/her to re-establish contact with relatives and renew the family ties.

Improving the image of their protégés in the local community will be another responsibility of accompanying persons. This will involve presenting the beneficiaries as people capable of occupational, social and family reintegration, willing to quit homelessness and addiction, provided that they have access to system solutions rather than ad-hoc assistance measures.

The Unemployed Integration Centres have been established in 11 cities (Rybnik, Sanok, Bielice, Ostrów Wielkopolski, Kielce, Częstochowa, Łódź, Sosnowiec, Gliwice, Zabrze, Bytom) to provide assistance to 300-400 beneficiaries. They are equipped with all tools that are required for pro-active job seeking efforts: computers with Internet connectivity, a free telephone, press with job offers and a library of guides. Each Centre will cooperate with poviat Labour Office, Municipal Welfare Centre, local authorities, employers and local press media to form together the Local Understanding that will focus on the development of a strategy for integration of the homeless and those in danger of homelessness in its area of activity.

In addition to individual and group therapy, vocational and computer literacy training events, the beneficiaries will be provided with financial support (scholarships, training benefits, dental care service, meals, public transport tickets, clothing) to enable them to attend the sessions and facilitate their social and occupational reintegration. The Partnership will host off-site workshops for both accompanists and the beneficiaries. The latter workshops will be intended to improve interpersonal communication skills and help the beneficiaries to cope with stress. The accompanists, who operate in different locations under various local conditions, will have an opportunity to share previous experience and good practice to improve their performance at
work and avoid routine.

The outcome of the Project will be a package of pre-tested distribution-ready methods, tools and services intended to reintegrate the homeless by establishing a network of support to the homeless and those in danger of homelessness in their efforts to re-enter the labour market. Testing these methods in various cities under different conditions will be an important contribution to model development. Considering a significant role played by the accompanist in the model, the Partnership will attempt to enter the position of accompanist, as established under the Project, to the official list of jobs.