Fighting social exclusion in rural areas
[ Summary ]
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
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
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
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.