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 We Can Do More – Partnership in Support of Social Cooperatives
Project number D0219

Project description

The objective of the project is to develop a Polish practical model of a social cooperative for the socially excluded or marginalised based on the experience contributed by other countries implementing such projects. The Partnership is planning to include 40 people in the project. The first group will be 20 people aged 18-25, leaving penal and correctional institutions as well as children's homes. The other group, called the specialist group, will consist of 20 long-term unemployed who have a specific educational or professional background (economy, pedagogy, psychology) which enables them to undertake social and economic activity. This group may support the basic beneficiary group in the establishment and management of a social cooperative.

The social cooperative to be established under the project will be based on the principle of the equality of its founders and employees. This means that functions will not be assigned based on a person's educational background but on his or her ability to undertake a given extent of responsibility for the activities carried out by the cooperative. The Partnership will allow for situations such as project participants deciding not to remain within the cooperative due to the education process. Such people will probably become independent, i.e. start their own business or be hired by other institutions, organisations or companies. In both cases the Partnership will do its best and utilise all opportunities to help these participants pursue their individual career plans.

The Partnership has identified detailed objectives for the project. The first objective is to develop and implement a model for a social cooperative for the socially excluded. This model will serve as "know-how" to anyone who may wish to establish a social cooperative.

The second task is to educate the final beneficiaries in order to prepare them to establish and run a social cooperative. The concept of training has been methodologically adjusted to the beneficiaries' perception abilities and is oriented towards their gaining the basic knowledge necessary to run a cooperative. The full training cycle will last approximately 280 hours. It will include workshop modules and training sessions in the field of motivation, teambuilding, social economy, law and cooperatives as well as developing business plans for a future cooperative.

The Partnership is also aiming to create an institutional, legal and economic support framework for social cooperatives in Poland. During the project implementation, the Partnership will develop, in cooperation with experts, recommendations for the state social and economic policy. The number of recommendations submitted will be the measure of attainment.

The key output delivered by the Partnership which will be subject to validation is the "Model of social and professional insertion of socially excluded young people (leaving penal institutions)". Its concept is to create a "bridge" for such people between a correctional or penal institution and the "normal" society and labour market. Thus, a socially excluded person could safely undergo the process of social and professional re-integration. This concept is based on a coherent and system-oriented cooperation between penal entities and local institutions. Additionally, it is based on the coordination of local cooperation between public authorities (starosties, poviat labour offices, poviat family support centres) with any social and private organisations and institutions dealing with social welfare or supporting this sphere of public life. The model is also supported by adequately developed education and socialisation intervention, to serve the professional empowerment of socially excluded young people through the establishing, managing and working for social cooperatives.

The institutions which will be able to utilise the model developed include the organisational units of local authorities, social organisations dealing with the issues of combating and preventing marginalisation and social exclusion as well as state authorities (Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Interior and Administration), organisational units of state authorities, voluntary labour corps (OHP) and above all - correctional and penal institutions.

The project outputs will be widely disseminated, especially in those areas where marginalisation issues are the most visible. This is accomplished, inter alia, via a bilingual (Polish and English) interactive website containing information about the ongoing changes in the economic and legal framework of social economy in Poland, descriptions of good practices and presentations of the results of the activities carried out within the project.

The Partnership will also organise a series of open seminars devoted to the presentation of the developed social cooperative model, Polish and foreign experience linked to the issues of combating social exclusion, social economy, and social cooperatives. The seminar participants will include programme beneficiaries on the local level, as well as individuals and public officials interested in these issues. During the seminars, the partners will promote the project by distributing information leaflets and CD-ROMs with informational material.

Cooperation with local, regional and national media will be established. A film will be made in cooperation with TVP3, demonstrating the operation of an already existing cooperative, established based on the model developed.

Upon completion, an international conference will be held, with the involvement of employers as well as Polish and foreign NGOs, with the objective to demonstrate the project outputs to the key actors of the Polish political and economic scene.