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The ESF in the news

Natural and inclusive

12/03/2013

Farmer in potato field
© Istockphoto/ small_frog

A social innovation project in Finland is using natural environments to build wellbeing and inclusiveness among disadvantaged groups

The Green Care work rehabilitation project in Finland is developing new ways of helping people who find it difficult to get jobs and are at risk of exclusion from society, including those with disabilities. In the beginning the project located potential employers who could offer rehabilitation and job opportunities in rural environments, such as farms and parks. Then three pilot projects were launched in the municipalities of Forssa, Mäntsälä and Helsinki to introduce disadvantaged people to green skills and approaches and provide them with suitable work activities, even in urban environments. In line with its focus on developing innovative approaches, Green Care provides bulletins and information events to businesses, associations and local authorities which set out the methodologies that work and how they can be applied. The project is also establishing a Green Care expertise centre. The overall purpose of this ESF co-funded initiative is to use natural surroundings to improve participants’ wellbeing by offering enriching, inclusive experiences.