Network D Strengthening the national social economy (the third sector), in particular the services of interest to the community, with a focus on improving the quality of jobs.
Project name Social Economy in Practice
Project number D0104

Project description

The mission of the Partnership is focused on supporting the development of the Polish model of social economy. The project target group are people who are not enough mobile on the labour market and exposed to the risk of long-term unemployment. According to "Barka" Foundation from Poznań, passive support for the long-term unemployed has prevailed in Polish social policy so far. Only recently regulations which enable socially excluded people to return to the labour market, such as the Act on Social Employment, or regulations which enable the establishment of social cooperatives appeared in Polish legislation. The Partnership intends to test new forms of reintegration of those excluded from the labour market, and then disseminate good practices and solutions in this field.

The target group covered by the Partnership's activities are the long-term unemployed. This includes 2 groups. The first group comprises the graduates of "Barka's" H.Ch. Kofoed School in Poznań (including homeless people, ex-prisoners, persons who have undergone addiction treatments, youths leaving children's homes and correctional institutions). The second are the longterm unemployed who have been designated for the programme by social welfare centres and labour offices from those poviats where the project is being implemented. The partnership's activities are expected to cover a group of approximately 500 beneficiaries altogether.

According to the analysis of the "Barka" Foundation, after completing the supplementary education process, long-term unemployed people still need support from their animators and counsellors during the initial stage of their functioning on the labour market, as they encounter many system-related and internal barriers.

Under the EQUAL Programme, the Partnership will establish three model Social Economy Centres - SEC. These will include a reception team, a job placement team, a self-employment team, and a team for self-help funds. Their objective will be to support unemployed people in establishing social cooperatives or starting their own businesses to become self-employed. Such centres will be set up in Poznań, Kwilcz and Drezdenko. The programme aims to establish more than ten social cooperatives, which will employ approximately 150 people. The planned activity profiles for the cooperatives include the preferences of both women and men. A catering or a housekeeping cooperative, as well as a cooperative offering care for children, the elderly and disabled would be closer to women's preferences, while men would be more interested in a repair and construction or an animal breeding cooperative.

Another important output of the project will be the development of a human resources education programme in terms of new forms of social economy, which includes both SECs and social cooperatives. The development and implementation of a training programme for local community leaders who have personally experienced exclusion is also expected.

The Partnership will also offer psychological, business, and job counselling in order to prepare unemployed people to return to the labour market. The main focus will be to balance the deficiencies resulting from socialisation disorders, as well as to develop motivation mechanisms, the ability to overcome difficulties, to act consistently, and to cooperate in decision-making.

It is expected that after the completion of the project, the Social Economy Centres will operate as a programme managed by an institution which is part of the Partnership or as an independent legal entity. It is also expected that the companies and cooperatives supported by SECs will be sufficiently economically effective, so that after the completion of the EQUAL Programme, the Centres will be able to collect fees for their services rendered to social enterprises. Moreover, SECs will be able to implement specialised projects based on other local, regional, national, and transnational programmes.

The main project output is a support system for social economy initiatives, involving the active participation of unemployed and socially excluded people, implemented in three local communities: in a rural commune, an urban commune, and a large provincial city. In order to achieve this output the following will be established: a mechanism developed to build local partnerships, a training programme for social economy leaders, a mechanism for establishing selfeducation groups, an operating model for Social Economy Centres and models of cooperation between social businesses and other market players.

In the Partnership's view, this output can be utilised by local self-governments, particularly by the supporting self-governments, i.e. community councils, village councils, NGOs, social enterprises, private enterprises and firms, as well as educational institutions.

The Partnership will disseminate its outputs via, inter alia, a series of conferences and an extensive IT portal. Their task will be to promote successful social economy initiatives as a library of good practices. Schools of Social Animation established by the Partnership will foster these outputs by including the best standards in educational curricula. A series of seminars to be held in Poland and abroad is also planned. This will promote the initiatives most effective in social and economic terms. Scientific publications will make it possible to verify the knowledge obtained and inspire scientific communities which deal with the development of the social economy theoretical basis.