Over 430 people at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Poznań and the wider Wielkopolska region of Poland will be provided with support in finding work and socially reintegrating, thanks to the Wielkopolska Centre of Economy of Solidarity project. At least 50% of these people will find a job, mainly in social enterprises.
The project, coordinated by the Barka Mutual Aid Foundation (Fundacja Pomocy Wzajemnej „Barka”), is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The aim of the project is to provide financial assistance to create jobs in new and existing social enterprises, including social cooperatives. This will benefit those who are most at risk of exclusion by providing them with work and also benefit the wider community, as those jobs that are created will be in enterprises with social aims.
The foundation received a grant of PLN 16,692,474.59 from the ESF and the Wielkopolska Regional Operational Programme 2014 – 2020 to manage this project that will run from 2018 to 2021.
Adapting working practices in a pandemic
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big effect on the project, with many of the supported social enterprises having to adapt their ways of working. For the “Supersprawni” Foundation, which runs a day care centre for children with multiple disabilities and offers individual physiotherapy, this meant finding new ways to work with families. They began telephone consultations for parents so that they could continue to get information on rehabilitation with suggestions for games and physical activities.
The “FURIA” Social Cooperative, decided to change their usual activities in order to help protect people from the virus. The cooperative employs people with an autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities, and usually its employees sew gadgets and felt bags, handle machine embroidery and hand-made techniques. To combat COVID-19, the cooperative volunteered to sew over 1,500 face masks to benefit the local community.
Supporting social enterprises
As well as supporting people in their search for work, the Wielkopolska Centre of Economy of Solidarity project will also create 30 new social enterprises and over 200 new, permanent jobs in social enterprises. The foundation will also provide 180 social economy entities with assistance. The hope is to increase the turnover of these social enterprises by 5%, through trainings (including vocational courses), consulting and service campaigns.
A further goal is that 20% of the social enterprises that were offered financial consulting services will benefit from loans, and their members and employees will develop new professional and personal competences. The project will also conduct advisory and educational campaigns in 29 local communities.
The wider objective of the project is to promote social entrepreneurship and professional integration in social enterprises, and to facilitate access to employment through social financing. The Barka Mutual Aid Foundation also hope to increase the visibility of social economy among the Poznań residents through social economy fairs, conferences, seminars, press articles, radio and TV programmes and the use of modern mass media.
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