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 Muflon DP
Project number D0214

Project description

The objective of the project is to develop and examine a model of social economy which takes advantage of specific local conditions, to support the process of combating discrimination and inequality on the labour market in the Wałbrzych region. This initiative is addressed to five beneficiary groups. The first of them is comprised of unemployed people from rural areas aged 18-24 who have been registered at labour offices for 6-12 months and have a maximum education level of secondary school. Unemployed women aged 25-34 who have been registered for more than 24 months form the second group. The third group consists of unemployed people aged 45-54 who have been registered for more than 24 months. Disabled unemployed who have been registered for more than 12 months, and university graduates who have been registered for 6-12 months form the final two groups. 100 people will participate in the project.

The "Muflon" Partnership will develop and test a model for discriminated-against communities to enter the open labour market by means of involving them in the activities of social enterprises. The Partnership will also introduce and test the establishment of social enterprises exemplified by at least six social cooperatives. It will develop two models for the incubation and support of social cooperatives and will develop a model for the cooperation of local communities (i.e. local authorities, NGOs and businesses).

The support for the beneficiaries involves family therapy sessions and specialist sessions on family violence and substance abuse. They are also provided with support from a social worker and childcare during the courses. At the beginning of the training cycle, the beneficiaries participate in a four-day motivation workshop. They are guided using proactive methods by people highly experienced in working with marginalised people or those at risk of marginalisation. The goals of the training sessions are to integrate the participants, to enhance their self-esteem and motivation, to improve their communication and teamwork skills, and to initiate the creation of self-help groups. The participants will have the opportunity to gain a certificate documenting their newly acquired skills.

Each of the project participants can choose a vocational training course. The training subject will be selected after a discussion with a counsellor and be based on an assessment of the participant's professional aptitude and preliminary definition of the scope of activities, i.e. in a social cooperative or immediately on the open labour market. The vocational training will be of a practical nature. Some of the project participants will take the challenge to set up their own social enterprise which will operate on the open market. Therefore they will take part in a series of entrepreneurship trainings and workshops. The final beneficiaries of the project will participate in a workshop whose objective will be to establish social cooperatives. The participants will learn about the formal and legal aspects of the operations of social cooperatives and about the principles of project-based work. During the workshop they will be divided into groups which will work on the establishment of their own cooperatives. With the support of coaches and counsellors, they will look for market niches and plan the scope of activities. They will develop business plans, the division of responsibilities and a schedule for the establishment of their own cooperatives. Apart from participating in workshops, they will, with guidance from their counsellors, carry out preparatory activities, such as looking for potential customers, preparing the formal documentation of their social cooperative etc.

As a result of consultations with entrepreneurs and the final beneficiaries of the project, the Partnership has developed a concept of "mother cooperative". A market niche was selected and a preliminary business plan was developed along with a method for implementing the initiative. The mother cooperative will be an example of support for the establishment of a social enterprise with significant involvement of third parties. The aim of setting up such a cooperative is not only to test this method of supporting entrepreneurship, but also to demonstrate a real, good example as a model to follow.

The main output of the Partnership is the "Model for discriminated people to enter the open labour market by means of establishing and working for a social cooperative". It consists of several components. The first of them is a municipal and communal programme for supporting social entrepreneurship - a kind of an agreement between the Partnership and the representatives of the Wałbrzych Poviat and Świdnica Town communities, under which the municipalities undertake to support social cooperatives established in their territories.

Another component is Regionalny Ośrodek Wspierania Przedsiębiorczości Społecznej (the Regional Centre for Supporting Social Entrepreneurship), which provides consulting services, as well as technical support, office locations, and financial support to the existing social cooperatives as well as to people interested in setting up such entities. The Partnership has developed an educational path for people preparing to establish social cooperatives. It has also established a system for supporting discriminated-against groups in overcoming social distances. This involves psychological and therapeutic support, as well as assistance in creating self-help groups. The support products of this output will include guidance manuals on the following areas: initiating the cooperation of local authorities with NGOs and business organisations, developing education and motivation processes for the unemployed who are preparing to establish social cooperatives, and on approaches to supporting these people in overcoming social prejudice.

The first dissemination activities started in September 2006 and will continue until the end of December 2007. The basic dissemination methods will be debates, conferences, press articles, reports on the activities of the Partnership, manuals and reference books, as well as meetings with selected recipient groups.