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 Partnership for Zawidawie – Zakrzów Project. The Peripheries as Wrocław’s Driving Force
Project number A0364

Project description

The Partnership was established with a view in delivering the "Zakrzów Project: The Peripheries as Wrocław's Driving Force" Project, intended to work out an effective tool for preventing labour market access inequalities in the specific environment of a post-industrial district located in a large urban agglomeration. Studies carried out under Activity 1 made it possible to establish the profile of a post-industrial district and its residents. The results of the studies are in agreement with a majority of previous random observations, which served as a basis for designing the programme and the formation of the Partnership.

In districts like Zakrzów, occupational, cultural and social life used to be centred around manufacturing plants employing a vast majority of the residents. The plants offered social (nurseries, kindergartens) and cultural (common rooms, cultural centres) facilities. Following the transition to a market-oriented economy, which brought about a collapse of enterprises and entire industry sectors, a dramatic rise in the rate of unemployment was combined with almost total disappearance of the social and cultural offer, inadequate maintenance of district's infrastructure and a lack of perspectives for those entering the working age.

All the abovementioned factors contribute to the degradation of entire districts, which are becoming poverty-stricken areas of rampant crime and dysfunction affecting primarily young people. More importantly, they induce changes in the mentality of the residents, who are getting accustomed to long-term joblessness or family unemployment. The ensuing exclusion is aggravated by a common feeling that municipal authorities and administration bodies do not express any interest in post-industrial districts located at the outskirts of the urban agglomeration. Since labour market changes have affected primarily female workers, those over 40 years of age and young people, a majority of final beneficiaries of the Project were recruited from these groups. Partnership's activities will cover 600 persons who have declared the will to participate in the Project, which in addition to encouraging activity of individuals and groups will involve activities aiming at integration and improvement in the quality of living of the entire communities, including some revitalisation of the district's infrastructure.

The first community integration activity will be the selection of a post-industrial building to be refurbished and adapted for its new function as the seat of the Zakrzów Centre - a venue of meetings, training and information sharing. Three open Citizen Support Points will operate there independently of each other to provide advice from a lawyer, psychologist and HR advisor, while enabling visitors to get advice from an expert or write an acceptable application/offer.

Local leaders (parish priests, teachers, trade union activists, district Council staff members) will help to identify community problems and related innovative problem-solving methods. Following a training in integration and interpersonal communication methodology, they will provide support to Project participants.

The key assumption behind the Partnership is to ensure that the new beneficiary support system encourages their occupational activity. In order for the system to be effective, the Partnership will have to work on an improvement of beneficiaries' motivation and self-esteem. This will involve individual and collective meetings with psychologists. Vocational training events are expected to improve existing or teach new skills. Moreover, the beneficiaries will have an opportunity to participate in a reference renewal programme. In addition to placements and internships, a series of training events promoting self-employment will be delivered to graduates and other interested participants. Advantages and potential threats associated with self-employment will be presented. A practical module will include sessions on starting and registering a business, profile choice, accounting and basics of marketing. Enterprise trainers - active successful businessmen with previous training in methodology - will provide business advice.

Young people will have a volunteer work module at their disposal. Working with „Friendly Home" Foundation will give them an opportunity to help people with mental disabilities. Training events, vacation internships and occupational therapy workshops will enhance their skills, while direct contact with patients is expected to influence favourably their sensitivity and social awareness. Additional educational activities will be delivered at schools: junior high and secondary school teachers will receive training in business management.

The Partnership is planning to invigorate life in the district on several levels. Job/training offers and a database on employers willing to deliver internships will be available at Citizen Support Points. Ongoing initiatives of the Project are to be posted on the website and information boards. An internet forum will be established to enable initiative sharing. It is also planned to publish a "District Newsletter" (editorial board members are about to complete journalist workshops). Special contests are intended to invigorate local activities: "District Business Idea Contest" (the winners will be awarded financial and logistic support) and a contest for a cultural, sports event or a social initiative that would best contribute to the quality of living in the district.

In addition to working out a model of integrated activities to ensure equal labour market opportunities, the Project is about re-establishing internal relationships that are a precondition for district residents' performance as a local community.

Meetings with foreign partners, international seminars and conferences will help to evaluate the model and compare local experience and findings to those from countries that have encountered the problems of post-industrial regions in the past.