Et Labora — New horizons for two workshops for people with disabilities
The Et Labora project has enabled two vocational rehabilitation centres for people with disabilities to create synergies and seize new opportunities to advance the occupational and social integration of people with disabilities in their area. Located near the border between Germany and Poland, respectively in Saxony and Lower Silesia, the two project partners have notably built on their proximity and shared interests to jointly create and market new products.
" The project has removed a lot of barriers. One of the main outcomes, to me, is that it has boosted our ability to support vocational rehabilitation in an area with high unemployment rates. "
Et Labora, launched in October 2011, was a cross-border collaboration involving two centres for vocational activity for people with disabilities, respectively located in Świerzawa, in the Lower Silesian county of Złotoryja, and in Panschwitz-Kuckau, Saxony. The project, which was led from Poland by the authorities of the county, enabled the two centres to extend and upgrade their premises, conduct training and cultural activities, and increase their range of products and services.
Both centres now benefit from new or refurbished training, seminar, production and sports facilities, which have widened the scope for the vocational and social integration of people with disabilities. The upgrades to the workshops have placed the partners in a better position to offer contemporary products and services that appeal to current and prospective customers, and helped to consolidate the centres’ positions in a challenging marketplace.
The project has notably supported the development of a new product, created jointly by the two partners: large outdoor candles in decorative clay pots, each of which is unique. The pottery and candle-making tasks are handled by teams at the German workshop. The metal part that holds the wick is produced by their colleagues in Poland, who also package the finished product. Similar cooperation has been established for the production of Christmas baubles.
Along with the building work, training was one of the main priorities of the project, which implemented a series of courses enabling workers and staff at the two centres to hone their skills. The candle-makers involved in the production of the new outdoor candles were, for example, specifically trained for the task.
The project also engaged with businesses and employers in the area, raising awareness of the products, services and potential of the two workshops. Both partners have reported an increase in sales.
Alongside its activities in support of vocational rehabilitation, the project promoted social and cultural activities involving both centres, as well as interaction with the wider community. It also generated fresh momentum for the centres’ dialogue with the relevant authorities.
Et Labora ended in June 2014, having opened up new opportunities for people with disabilities in this part of the border area. It has enabled the two centres – Świerzawa Zakład Aktywności Zawodowej and Werkstatt für behinderte Menschen St. Michael – to upgrade their facilities and services in support of vocational rehabilitation, and it has strengthened the ties between these two partners. It has also allowed many people who may not have many chances to move beyond their familiar environment to develop a greater sense of the wider European neighbourhood, and of the opportunities associated with open borders, says project leader Wojciech Szandula.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Et Labora - Rehabilitation behinderter Menschen in der Euroregion Neiße” is EUR 2 705 243, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing
EUR 2 152 242 through the the “Germany (Saxony) - Poland” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013. The investment falls under the priority “Cross-border social integration”.