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Fighting social exclusion in rural areas

[ Summary ]


Chapter 3:
Taking action against social exclusion in
rural areas: what methods? what tools?


3.4 The tools


How is the link established between beneficiaries and resource persons/institutions, in other words between those needing help and those with the potential to offer the help? By using certain specific tools, something that can be seen in all the examples mentioned, it is possible to overcome the obstacles which may arise and which are of a social, cultural, institutional or quite simply material nature.

These tools are of several kinds: conceptual, interface, institutional, contractual or legislative.

a) The conceptual tools

When promoting a new idea or encouraging change in collective practices, it can be useful to adopt a new concept. The definition work is educational. It is a way of creating a common reference for the various players and enables them to take a position and to become involved.

To encourage families to become directly involved in helping disabled people, the Valle di Non social cooperative launched the concept of community development. This concept serves as a catalyst here and plays an important role within the cooperative but also in the cooperative’s relationship with the area’s other players.

b) The interface tools

When the needs and resources are numerous, diverse and scattered and there has to be rapid and flexible matching of the two, an interface tool becomes necessary. This tool may be in the form of, for example, a database, a data processing system, or an accounting system to keep track of exchanges of services.

The time bank of Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna where the unit of measurement is time is a good example of this accounting system.

The system of alternative means of transport of Angus (Angus Transport Forum) is based on a data processing system that matches the transport supply and demand.

c) The institutional tools

The institutional tools are particularly useful when the resources to be mobilised and to be pooled for the action are diversified, because they help formalise the relationships and commitments between actors or institutions.

To implement the action of the Centre-Ouest Bretagne group, two entities had to be set up: the training enterprise itself and an estate agent’s office - the estate agent takes over dilapidated houses bought up by the municipality with which it signs a 34-year lease, finances the restoration work and manages the renovated dwellings on the social rental market for the duration of the lease. Both of these entities were set up with the support of partners of the sector concerned: the Confederation of Craftsmen and Small Construction Businesses and certain industrial firms intervened for the training enterprise while the banks and the HLM company (low-rental housing firm) helped create the estate agent’s office.

d) The contractual tools

By formalising the commitments in contracts or agreements, the established links are more clearly defined.

The counselling and guidance service offered to farmers in need in the Loire is covered in a contract of commitment and the content is discussed at regular intervals with the farmer.

e) The legislative tools

Legislation sometimes has to be changed so that the link can be established between beneficiaries and the resource persons/institutions. This change can be what initiated the action or vice versa.

The initiative taken in Utajärvi Oulu was prompted by a decision of the Finnish government to try out a system called “VARPU” where an already long-established childminding service was extended to elderly people in their homes.

Italian legislation on social cooperatives was the result of ten years of experiments on the ground by these cooperatives. It gave them a new dimension.

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