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 KŁOS Coalition for Breaking Social Barriers
Project number D0438

Project description

The project is addressed to the long-term unemployed and mentally ill residing in rural areas. Both beneficiary groups have very difficult situations which leads to adverse psychological effects such as apathy, a feeling of lack of prospects, uselessness and being unsuited to the present economic situation. The aforementioned factors may contribute to developing pathologies and social isolation, which is indicated by regular exclusion of the representatives of both groups from society. For mentally ill people from rural areas, the consequences of remaining unemployed for a prolonged period of time add to the symptoms of their illness.

Twenty inhabitants of the rural areas of the Zgierz commune will participate in the project (12 long-term unemployed and 8 mentally ill). The number of beneficiaries has been determined based on the possibilities of the Hotel social enterprise which is to be established. It will be a small entity with 15-20 beds (depending on the scope of the investment).

The Hotel social enterprise is to be the main location for apprenticeship of the beneficiaries. Due to the beneficiaries' long period of unemployment, their poor qualifications and poor social skills of the group (especially in the case of the chronically mentally ill), the Partnership is going to implement an innovative solution for the organisation of apprenticeship. The duration of the integration-oriented apprenticeship could be up to two years, which is a lot longer than the apprenticeships which are currently organised by labour offices and often do not result in the participants finding a job. During the apprenticeship, the beneficiaries will improve their skills by participating in language classes, counselling sessions and training in active job seeking, self-presentation or the fundamentals of social economy. This will help them prepare better to return to the labour market.

The project implementation period will provide time for testing the developed tools of social economy. In order to be able to monitor the impact of the project on its beneficiaries in detail, and - if required - to respond in a flexible way to the emerging problems and needs, the Partnership has focused on a relatively small group of participants. If the implemented project is a success and its results are effectively implemented in the mainstream policy, the developed solutions will serve more numerous groups of the socially excluded.

The project will also involve the participation of at least 40 NGOs from the Łódź Voivodship which deal with socially excluded people.

The main output delivered by the Partnership will be the development of principles for the operation of a social enterprise exemplified by a social company with support from a counselling and training institution, i.e. Ośrodek Gospodarki Społecznej (Centre of Social Economy). The social enterprise established by the Partnership will initially operate based on examples from Italy, France and Finland. It will offer two forms of employment: permanent and temporary. Permanent jobs will be offered to those who have a poor chance of returning to the open labour market and must remain employed by the company for rehabilitation reasons. Temporary jobs will be offered to those beneficiaries who will be able to enter the open labour market after the completion of on-the-job training and apprenticeship, thanks to which the social enterprise will be able to employ subsequent participants.

The service sector in which a social company operates is also an important aspect. This sector, owing to the direct contact between its employees and customers, supports the social integration of the mentally ill. This solution is directly derived from the experiences of social economy in Italy. For the KŁOS project an initiative in the hotel sector was selected due to the variety of jobs available for disabled people and the location of the hotel in a suburban commune of the Łódź Voivodship of a considerable tourist value.

The Centre for Social Economy is expected to perform the function of an institution which enables the company to perform both its social and commercial activities. It will run an innovative training programme for people employed by social enterprises in the future. The entity will also provide training and consulting services for employers and NGOs in order to encourage them to establish social enterprises. Moreover, it will be responsible for the promotion and lobbying for social economy and its tools.

The project outputs will be disseminated by organising conferences, publishing press releases, and issuing publications on the problems of persons excluded from the labour market and on the opportunities provided by social economy related to combating such inequalities. The Partnership will publish training materials for other entities which wish to establish a social company. These materials will be distributed to NGOs operating in the Łódź Voivodship. The Partnership intends to organise meetings with local authorities and business people which will provide the opportunity to demonstrate the model of a Centre for Social Economy and a social enterprise for rural areas. The objective of the meetings is also to create a consulting team to support lobbying. Educational reportages are also planned, to demonstrate the social enterprises and the Centre for Social Economy. The Partnership will disseminate project outputs by means of press publications, radio and TV broadcasts, with particular regard to local media (including local branches of national media) in
the Łódź Voivodship.

Up-to-date information about the implemented project will be published in the project newsletter (print run: 1200 copies, 6 issues per year). This newsletter will be distributed to the following: project partners and beneficiaries, local authorities, organisations supporting the excluded, psychiatric community care centres and regional healthcare centres. The University of Łódź will be responsible for project output dissemination among young people and will initiate some activities with the aim of introducing the outputs delivered by the Partnership to the academic curricula.