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 Agenda of Homelessness – Standards for Active Return to Employment
Project number A0532

Project description

The Development Partnership was established with a view in developing and testing a reasoned system of support to the homeless and those in transition from homelessness in re-entering the labour market. The Project will draw on data from an in-depth target group survey, which identified barriers encountered by the homeless and those in danger of homelessness in their attempts to return to normal social activities, as well as enabled an assessment of the quality of institutional assistance provided to the homeless by welfare centres and organisations. Survey results have confirmed the Partnership-underpinning assumptions that assistance available to the homeless is largely limited to subsistence needs and provided on an ad-hoc basis. This can be defined as "system of assistance in homelessness" rather than a system of assistance in homelessness quitting.

Moreover, the responsibilities of various institutions tend to overlap, especially those related to ad-hoc support, while areas requiring system approach and coordination of activities, e.g. occupational reintegration as a tool helping to quit homelessness, are in neglect.

Project beneficiaries are 320 people aged 18-65 - the homeless and those in danger of homelessness (who have been unemployed for a long time and children's home wards aged 17-18 y.o.). Placements will be available to 60 participants, 100 of them will work at workshops and 160 beneficiaries will follow the Individual Homelessness Quitting Programme and Individual Vocational Action Plan (the two blocks will include training events and workshops). The planned activities are to address institutional, mental and community aspects to change beneficiaries' attitudes towards life, education and work. The social contract will commit the beneficiaries to proactive participation in the Project.

The participants will work at workshops (in printing, maintenance/janitorial, carpenter's and tailor's establishments) to brush up existing or acquire new vocational skills. The events lasting for a month and delivered by professional trainers will mark the first stage of beneficiaries' participation in the Project. The best performers in terms of regularity and quality of work will be offered six month placements with enterprises. Throughout the placement, each beneficiary will have an opportunity to take advantage of assistance provided by his/her personal assistant. This will be of key importance, as the placements are to mark the beginning of actual return to occupational and social activities. During the placement, trainees will be paid scholarships and have an opportunity to participate in optional savings scheme to raise funds for starting an unassisted life.

Psychological, occupational and enterprise counselling will be available free-of-charge to all participants. Individualized approach to each of the beneficiaries will be an important aspect of this part of the Project. For each participant, a dedicated experience profile, career path and homelessness quitting programme will be prepared. Vocational development scheme will involve interpersonal training to improve social skills of the beneficiaries and enhance their self-esteem and motivation.

Social and Occupational Reintegration Centre and Activity Club will be established under institutional component of the Project. Those interested will have Internet, cafeteria and thematic library at their disposal, but the Centre is primarily intended to provide integration focus and a forum for unrestrained experience sharing by the participants. The key innovative approach used by the DP is the setting up of Institutional Assistance Department based on hierarchy of establishments. The following structure will be established: lodgings, shelter and training flat, whereby the beneficiaries will gradually increase their independence up to partial coverage of subsistence costs.

The envisaged system will require an improvement in the flow of information between government institutions, aid donors and entrepreneurs. New standards for working with the homeless have to be worked out to encourage their proactive and independent attitudes and enable them to counteract social stigmatisation. Beneficiaries' initiatives, the ability to present positives cases - especially focusing on the return to occupational activity as a way to get out of homelessness - are prerequisite for delivering a media campaign on this issue and ensuring a wider interest of employers.

Project outcomes will include a model path of resuming occupational activity by the homeless and the hierarchic system of assistance centres and cooperation of institutions in their establishment.

The Partnership will also develop a model of activities headed "Streetworking - the first step in social and occupational integration of the homeless", involving direct activities in the environment of homeless people who are not recipients of institutional aid.