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Sentinel Study Visit in Hungary
In the morning of 9 May 2019 German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, and Hungarian partners of the SENTINEL project gathered on the Danube riverbank. We travelled together on increasingly rough roads to visit a farm in the countryside, which turned out to be so much more than a farm!
The Strázsa Tanya Social Cooperative in Szabadszállás employs mentally handicapped people and runs a pension. They host families and groups who wish to spend time in nature, pet farm animals, share a playground with disabled children, and engage in many other fun activities. Handicapped young people, who otherwise live with their families have the opportunity to spend two weeks at Strázsa Tanya and learn the basics of how to live independently. This might be the first step to employment, which shows both the working individual and the other guests of the farm that handicapped people are equal members of society and capable of valuable work.
We were also introduced to the work of three other social enterprises involved in the pilot action in Hungary. One runs summer camps for school groups, in which disabled and blind masters teach the children handicrafts. Another grows and processes herbs and fruit with homeless people, producing unique snacks and tea, while healing mental wounds of the workers with nature, with work and a sense of community. The third enterprise presented teaches restauration skills to disadvantaged young people, who then renew old pieces of furniture, which then find their way to the trendiest hotels and restaurants.
After truly inspiring presentations, the visiting partners had a chance to participate in the mentoring process of the pilot action, and use their expertise to brainstorm with the representatives of the social enterprises in order to help them create value propositions. All the participants had something to take away from the workshop.
After a lot of anticipation about how kind the weather would be to us, we ate our lunch, baked in an outdoor oven, partly under a roof and in the fresh, sprinkling rain. The wet, muddy weather didn’t keep us from walking around the premises to see and stroke the farm animals, and to pose with them for a few photos.
The following day, yet again we got into our cars and minibuses to travel to Gyulaj, a small, disadvantaged village south of the Lake Balaton. There we had an introduction of the area, the social circumstances, the lack of employment, to find out how the Hetedhét Határ Social Cooperative emerged, giving work to local people and processing the fruit and vegetable grown locally. The Cooperative also has a small meet processing plant, and operates a shop in the village and in the biggest town in the vicinity. After being showed around the kitchens and storage rooms, we were lucky to have lunch prepared from the food produced by the Cooperative and also to buy some of the delicious products to take home. At the end of the visit we walked around the village, lush and green from all the rain, and while climbing up to the church, we were showed the nursery and school operated by the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta. After the compulsory group photo everyone made their way home, and some did not resist the temptation to see the Lake Balaton on their way, as the sun eventually decided to take over.
On the 2nd and 3rd of April 2019 in Rzeszów the fourth Transnational Working Group and Steering Committee meeting took place. The event was organized in frame of the international project “SENTINEL Advancing and strengthening social enterprises to maximize their impact in the economic and social sector of Central European countries”. The most important aim of the project is to create and test support models for social enterprises operating in less developed regions of Central European countries. The project is supported by the Interreg Central Europe Programme and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
10 partners from Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland meet twice a year in order to discuss the administrative issues of the project, completed tasks, present activities as well as plans for the future.
The crucial goal of the 4th TWG meeting was to discuss the progress of one of the most important tasks executed by partners – pilot actions. The main aim of this task is to test new models and tools for social enterprises start up support and social business mentoring and networking services. Each partner country prepares and realizes their own pilot action. The results will serve as the basis for the main project outputs: “Handbook for the creation and operation of “managed networks” of social enterprises” and “Toolbox for Social Business Mentoring Services” as well as for the Action Plan which will ensure the sustainability and transferability of project results.
In Poland, the pilot action called “Social Enterprise Start-up Incubator” is a form of simulation of the support path for emerging social enterprises with particular emphasis on the pre-selection phase and adaptation of the support elements to the needs of new social entrepreneurs. The pilot action is carried out in close cooperation with the Rzeszow Social Economy Support Center because this institution provides support for social enterprises on a daily basis and has extensive experience in this field.
Project partners believe that by international cooperation of 10 institutions from 6 Central European countries, it will be possible to create models and tools which will help social enterprises to become more sustainable and competitive on the regional markets.
What is SENTINEL about?
From the 1st of June 2017 the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta is cooperating with 9 Central European partner organizations for a 3 year period to implement a transnational project aimed at developing and testing tools and methods for helping social enterprises.
Demographic changes have started in recent years, increasing social segregation and disintegration, especially in rural areas, represent serious economic challenges for the countries of the Central European region. In these regions social enterprises, if they are helped by a supportive environment, can be real drivers of social inclusion and work integration. Sentinel can help here, first of all, as a guardian or a mentor to encourage these social enterprises, which in many Central European disadvantaged regions provide almost the only job opportunity for local people.The main goal of the project is to reduce regional inequalities in the participating countries and to strengthen social enterprises.
The first study visit was organized in the Czech Republic
The first of the SENTINEL pilot study visits was organized in February 2019. Polish and German project partners had the opportunity to visit the Czech pilot project. The course of the whole Czech pilot action was presented: the first day of the study visit was dedicated to group and individual counselling for the target groups while an on-site visit took place on the second day. During the on-site visit, social entrepreneurs Pavla Nedbálková (RECYCLER) and Michaela Francová (Atelier Hamaka) presented their activities.
• Petra Nedbálková (RECYCLER)
You can read and download here the documents: country reports, joint report, pilot activity concepts, communication deliverables of SENTINEL. The main goal of the project is to reduce regional inequalities in the participating countries and to strengthen social enterprises, to be able to play a prominent role in their local economy.
What makes social enterprise viable? How can people, who are living in underprivileged region and don’t have a job, get one? The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Málta are looking for answers in 6 Middle-European countries with 10 partner organisation in a new programe called SENTINEL.
3 years Duration