Title Mutual Assistance
Project Number UK/11/LLP/LdV/TOI-438
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Country UK-United Kingdom
“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness!”
“Mutual Assistance” will make Europe the world center of social solidarity and human development! Unemployed disadvantaged youngsters from Western go on placements to Eastern Europe to help orphans and street kids, while also gaining work skills and enhancing their CV and career prospects.
On-line database of mutual assistance placement and organisations plus guide on successful implementation of such projects are only two of the many tangible results we have envisaged.
5 organisations from Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Turkey and United Kingdom are working together to make this a reality!
We concur with the 2020 EU Strategy & its key strategic objectives, coupled with the economic downtown in Europe unemployment being particularly severe among young people between 18- 25 who lack experience & expertise to compete successfully for job vacancies. Through BET’s current mutual assistance(MA) mobility project 84% of young people who are all disadvantaged & unemployed went on to employment, training or volunteering; the current participants referring to the project as a‘life changing experience.’In light of this we have transferred the innovative project to other Western EU countries, namely Spain and Italy, both countries have the highest youth unemployment 44.1% and 28.6% respectively. (Source Eurostat 2011)
AIMS-To disseminate & transfer the current innovative project, successfully, cost effectively & efficiently, adapting where necessary the project to the countries specific requirements, promoting best practice adapting our project through the cross fertilization of knowledge
CONSORTIUM - The organizations that make up the consortium are carefully selected for their work in their respective countries with disadvantaged social groups.
OUTCOMES - outcomes include the development of a generic website for the sending & hosting countries that will include the on-line resource to provide essential information, guidance & advice on MA based transnational mobility projects; including tailored guidance. A live database facilitates cooperation between sending & hosting partners, comprehensive search facility, also a guide on how to successfully implement a MA project.
IMPACT - increased access to quality European mobility & actively encouraging higher volumes of groups at risk to partake in VET through positive mobility experiences.
A project spearheaded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Social Policy & partnering with the Bulgarian National Employment Agency, aiming to assist the long term youth unemployed in Bulgaria, by using our current project as a blue print. We envisage if this blue print is successful would have a profound influence on future Ministerial policy making, which again could be adapted to a wider Europe.
A further impact being over 2000 organizations have already registered an interest on our website
We have adopted the Chinese proverb 'it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness' We believe using the legacies as a spring board we hope to light beacons across Europe instead of candles.
In order to achieve the ambitious aspirations of this “Mutual Assistance” project the 5 partner organisations from 5 different countries have worked hard in identifying the work plan and methodology of the project.
The tangible results that are expected to continue expanding and sustainably developing even years after the end of the life time of this specific Transfer of Innovation project are the Blue Print Guide on Successful Implementation of Mutual Assistance Mobility Projects in EU, and as equally important - the online database of sending and hosting organisations interested in partnerships on mutual assistance mobility projects. The workload has been divided into work packages with clear lines of responsibility assigned to each of the participating organisation and their respective experts. The activities involved, including their title, description, aims and timelines for each activity; as well as the expected results from each work package have been developed in precise detail.
In order to achieve that partners met 5 times in and they actually had the chance not only to exchange knowledge, information and findings from researches; but also to experience firsthand the unique ethos of a mutual assistance mobility placements.
Typical work packages include Research and needs analysis in all the participating countries, preparing and hosting 5 seminars, Piloting and Testing the online mutual assistance database and the guide on successful implementation of mutual assistance projects; Quality assurance and evaluation; as well as the continuously going Dissemination and Exploitation of the results from this unique project.
As a result of this project 4 out of 5 partners applied for a Mobility Project in beginning of 2013.
After the project was implemented in the respective countries we anticipated several needs being addressed as witnessed with our own current mutual assistance projects:
SENDING COUNTRY (SC):
To improve the employability of the participant, by acquiring a nationally recognized qualification, other accreditations (Europass), careers seminar highlighting their options, interview techniques & CV writing and to make appointments upon their return.
- To provide a life changing experience, assisting another deprived & marginalised group.
- To improve their circumstances as indicated by the Maslow hierarchy of needs, irrespective of their employability
- To provide post project support, actively encouraging employment, training and volunteering
- To help improve their soft skills, confidence and self esteem.
HOSTING COUNTRY (HC):
- To improve the soft skills of the marginalised groups (orphans or street children)
- To improve the living conditions
- To motivate the staff, i.e. the Hawthorne experiment
- To ensure the marginalised groups feel less abandoned & more worthy in society.
The European priority we helped address is Development & transfer of mobility strategies in VET. The new website with the facilities, promoting mutual assistance is orientated towards the transfer of mobility strategies in VET. The innovations such as the resource centre, careers seminar, accreditations which all help address the needs indicated above is the development of mobility strategies in VET.
Please find below some more details about PROJECT ACTIVITIES:
- Giving information to partners: Handbook about the TOI project; Guide of the project; Best methods of communicating: Sending Case Studies, Regular conference calls, E-mails, monthly reports, Face book. The partners are now fully aware of the requirements of the TOI and the ethos of a Mutual Assistance mobility project, including its stages (Seminar 1 – Bulgaria, January 2012).
- Research & needs analysis S/H countries In relation with this a profile of the likely disadvantaged participant was created, and it determined Skills shortages & how best this project can address these;
- Seminar 2- BET UK provided the participants with experience of such projects; working in an orphanage in Bulgaria together with UK participants, experiencing all elements of the project including career seminar and qualification. The seminar was held in Bankya, Bulgaria in April 2012.
- Test and piloting stage - Having experienced the actual project, in conjunction with the profile, a sample of young people was formed in the SC; the efficiency of the elements were tested.
- Preparation and adaptation- all partners were introduced to the application form. A range of tasks related to it were created to them in order to easy the process of writing it
- Guide on implementation- Currently the guide includes: Introduction, Phases of the project (both sending and hosting organisations), Evaluation, monitoring and dissemination, Conclusion, Case studies etc
- Database creation - After considerable research the database of sending and hosting organizations for Mutual assistance projects has started
- Seminar 3 - Having transferred & adapted the innovation the results had to be disseminated & best practice nurtured through the cross fertilization of knowledge. It was also important to consolidate progress & to discuss the next steps; work on applications for mobility funding commenced and each partner is applying to their respective National agency. The seminar was held in Izmit, Turkey in November 2012.
- Test and piloting stage –The SC contacted with the participants on regular bases; modified the qualification and career seminar according their needs and the national specifics.
- Preparation and adaptation- modified the preparation activities in light with the labor market trends in each country; modified the action plan for implementing a future project in each country; BET UK provided valuable guidance & advice with relation to hosting foreign disadvantaged participants and the partners assist with finalising the Guide.
- Seminar 4 (Bulgaria, January 2013) was utilized to impart this knowledge for the sending partners to completing the application for the February 2013 deadline & possibly run a project later that year. Each of the participating countries have submitted an application to their NA and results will be available in May and June.
- Guide on implementation of Mutual Assistance Projects -A legacy that can remain after the lifecycle of the project, is the creation of a useful guide on the implementation of a mutual assistance project, collating all necessary information from the partners, the experiences from the TOI project and the problems and adaptations encountered. The guide is already available as a test version and feedback from partners is currently being obtained.
- Dissemination & exploitation - Dissemination Events, Publications in Relevant Journals, Setting up a Project Website, Regular Newsletters, The main target of dissemination: Educational Specialists, Marginalised Target Groups, Other NGOs, Policy Makers and EU/national organizations. All dissemination materials is published on the project website.
- Quality assurance & evaluation; Management of consortium -Surveys and Feedback Forms were analysed; On a monthly basis after the 31 January the project partners were required to complete a monthly report, The reports from each partner were evaluated at an internal evaluation meeting, Evaluation also happened in a more informal way through the Skype conference Central to the quality assurance and evaluation of the project was the first partner meeting – Seminar 1, held in Bankya.
- Database creation – To promote the database;
- After submitting of the application forms, to encourage partners to implement the Mobility project in their respectful countries;
Seminar 5 – It was important to obtain their feedback & disseminate the results, to discuss their next steps & to promote the new website which will host the database & guide. To encourage future participation in projects & for the partners to disseminate the project in their own countries & to their networks. Final project reports needed to be prepared and information regarding final accounts for partners received.
Dissemination & exploitation - To receive impact and popularize the project.
Quality assurance, evaluation & Management of consortium - BET kept ensuring the efficient implementation drawing on its wealth of experience in running similar projects.
Recognition, transparency, certification
Utilization and distribution of results
Access for disadvantaged
Open and distance learning
Information and Communication
Human Health and Social Work Activities
open and distance learning
RESULT 1: RAISING AWARENESSS OF THE INNOVATIVE CONCEPT OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE
We have been raising awareness of the innovative concept of mutual assistance for many years and we have in the past used various mediums in order to achieve this including: Inclusion in TVs programmes and documentaries, Inviting dignitaries to celebration events, Applying for and being awarded awards, Inclusion of articles on other NGOs websites, Continually enlarging the participants’ target groups i.e. MENCAP, British Deaf Association; The inclusion of corporate organizations such as Shell, BNP Paribas, etc to the project; Applying for various funding opportunities; Attending Seminars and conferences; Using modern technology to encourage participation such as Face book.
We would naturally beyond the life cycle of the projects continue such methods for raising awareness, incorporating new innovative methods for dissemination from participating countries.
Result 1, “raising awareness of the innovative concept of mutual assistance”, refers to the on-going dissemination and promotion of Mutual Assistance and the Mutual Assistance TOI project.
RAISING AWARENESS OF THE INNOVATIVE CONCEPT OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE in the context of this current Transfer of Innovation project can be referred to as result (intangible), activity or a project objective itself and each one would be equally relevant.
As a main aim of the project was to transfer the concept of Mutual Assistance, as well as the successful model of mobility projects based on the concept - naturally raising the awareness about Mutual Assistance not only contributed to achieve the project objectives, but was first of all a pre-condition for achieving these objectives.
We think that we can asses the contribution of RAISING AWARENESS OF THE INNOVATIVE CONCEPT OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE from two distinctive perspectives:
1. Within the project consortium
2. Amongst relevant and potential stakeholders and the general public
1. Raising the awareness within the consortium was one of the first activities to take place, the leading activity in the first months of the project, work towards achieving this result was mainly undertaken within the first 4 work packages, including publishing on-line a dedicated TOI “Mutual Assistance” handbook (http://www.bhagavat.org.uk/TOI/TOI_Guide_draft_11_packages.pdf) & numerous conference calls & e-mails, with the added value of 2 partner meetings /seminars dedicated mainly on that. All project partners fully endorsed and adopted the ethos, as dictated by their activity in the project. It is realistic to say that this aspect of the result has been fully achieved (100%) with excellent success further evidenced by the External Verifier's report & the actual work and activities undertaken by the project partners in order to raise the awareness amongst potential and relevant stakeholders in their own countries and the general public.
Without raising awareness amongst the consortium as a start – none of the subsequent activities would have been at all possible.
2. RAISING AWARENESS OF THE INNOVATIVE CONCEPT OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE to the general public was an ongoing process which was achieved with the help of the consortium. This was important for the wider transfer of the concept and the successful model of mobility projects to the participating countries; it helped towards achieving one of the other important results – the MA On-line Database.
It s important to note that this will continue beyond the life cycle of the project, ensuring its sustainability.
RESULT 2: SEMINARS
Throughout this project five seminars were required in order to efficiently and cost effectively promote, disseminate and implement the Mutual Assistance Concept amongst the participating organizations and countries. All partners attended each seminar bringing the relevant expertise.
Each seminar had a specific purpose, but in general the main aim of the seminars was to bring all partners together, promote mutual assistance, give them a true "hands-on" experience by investigating a mutual assistance placement into a social institution benefiting a host country marginalized group, experiencing the other elements of the project, presenting activities undertaken prior to the seminar by each partner, preparing action plans for the forthcoming period, sharing hindrances experienced, but also successes achieved and learning from each other.
The seminars were a powerful tool for cross fertilization of knowledge and also where BET UK fully introduces the mutual assistance mobility concept to partners as well as the ethos & ‘modus operandi’. Progress between seminars was also measured, and naturally each seminar included unique elements (i.e seminar 5 was orientated towards dissemination).
All five seminars were also planned to be powerful dissemination tools.
Seminars were essential for the success of the project, as they facilitated face to face meetings with partners culminating in 5 days of intense work on each seminar, dedicated solely to the TOI “Mutual Assistance” project.
The first two seminars took place in Bulgaria, the first one (Initial partner meeting) from 22 to 28.01.2012, and the second one from 22 to 28.04.2012.
Seminar 3 has also taken place from 04 to 10 November in Turkey, and Seminar 4 - in Bulgaria from 14 - 19 January 2013. Seminar 5 was held in Gijon, Spain hosted by our partner MAGENTA.
Seminar 1 - BG 22–28.01.2012
Information to partners regarding current project- as this project is innovative it was important to provide comprehensive information, we turned to our own experience imparting the ethos and ‘modus operandi’, tour of different elements, i.e. resource centre, details about marginalized groups in both sending & hosting countries, the benefits they gain from participating, project activities & dissemination, including establishment of country specific action plans as well as dissemination action plans to cover the period between Seminar 1 & 2
Sessions dedicated on practical implementation of the TOI project i.e. management, responsibilities, reporting, budgets, record keeping, flow of events/activities under the TOI during its lifecycle.
After the amendments requested by the NA in the pre-contracting stage & the imparting of this information this seminar laid the foundations for a successful implementation of the TOI.
Seminar 2 – BG 22–28.01.2012
Bringing together for the 2nd time the stakeholders of the project & promote the MA project, providing the participants with experience of such projects; undertaking a mini project, working in an orphanage in BG with a group of UK participants, experiencing other elements of the project such as career seminar and qualification. Presentation of results from Research and Needs Analyses. Discussions held on the most appropriate methods of implementation and any likely barriers, powerful tool for exchange of knowledge, plans were laid for the period ahead.
Seminar 3 TR - Having transferred & adapted the innovation the results of which need to be disseminated & best practice nurtured through the cross fertilization of knowledge. It was also important to consolidate progress & to discuss next steps. A further visit to project in TR working with street children experiencing a different culture. Having acquired this skill, transferred the innovation & met the host partners the seminar was also dedicated to applying for funding.
Seminar 4 BG - building on the knowledge gained for partners we completed and adapted each of the applications for mobility funding the Feb 2013 deadline, in addition to this concepts around the database, project website and the mutual assistance guide were discussed.
Seminar 5 BG –It was important to obtain their feedback & disseminate the results, to discuss next steps & promote the new website which will host the database & guide. Encourage future participation in projects & for partners to disseminate the project in their countries & to their networks.
RESULT 3: RESOURCE CENTRE IN EACH COUNTRY
The Living and Learning Abroad project, on the results of which this current Transfer of Innovation was prepared has been in existence for many years. However, as it is a multifaceted project year on year we introduce new innovations, culminating in our current successful model.
One of these innovations have included the establishment of an Online Resource Centre, which has proved a tremendous resource for our disadvantaged mobility participants, during the preparation stage, the post project stage, where the participants are supported by our social welfare advisers and also opportunities for peer to peer support have been provided on the platform.
A recent European White paper on Inclusion revealed that often barriers to inclusion can include for instance their geographical location such as housing estates. Alot of the young people have hardly ventured outside their own housing estate, let alone visited another country. The idea of the resource centre is to bring to the Young People the country, via films, pictures, language lessons, information packs etc all on line.
As this has proved to be an invaluable tool in acquainting and preparing the participants, embracing the BLENDED LEARNING approach part of our TOI project was to transfer this innovative element to the sending countries Italy and Spain.
Having established in each sending country a general profile of the likely participants in the process of “Research and Needs Analyses” and “Piloting and Testing/ preparation and adaptation and transfer of educational activities/products” a sample group matching the profile was used to pilot and test the resource centre. To effectively achieve the transfer all elements of the resource centre needed to be translated in the sending partner’s language. After completion the resource centres were made available to a wider audience, i.e. other NGOs in order to obtain their feedback.
Please follow this link to view a typical resource centre for one of the host countries Bulgaria http://www.mutualassistance.eu/en/toi/bulgarian-partner (click the icons that are on the same line as and to the right of the heading BULGARIAN PARTNER) and for Turkey http://www.mutualassistance.eu/en/toi/turkish-partner (click the icons that are on the same line as and to the right of the heading TURKISH PARTNER)
This was a key result for the successful implementation of future mutual assistance mobility projects.
It concerns the preparation stage of such projects, and more specifically – the preparation of disadvantaged young people to take part in a mutual assistance mobility placement abroad.
Preparation prepares participants for the placement as well as providing essential personal development increasing each participant's confidence and awareness of the host country.
It includes minimum of 36 hours with support provided by the accompanying people within the participants’ own community, including: self assessment to identify individual needs and preparing for the placement experience, encompassing inter-cultural games, action planning, researching the host country customs and traditions, language learning, living in the UK & what is Europe? A complete learning exercise!
The Resource Centers are instrumental for the preparation of participants.
Preparation for an international mobility experience is extremely important for every participant.
However – when participants come from a marginalised group they often have low self esteem and lack of confidence. The socio-economic situation/status of our participants is disadvantaged, but also in the vast majority of cases these are young people who have limited social abilities.
So for such participants preparation is not only important, it is vital; as without which and due to the high levels of participants with basic skills needs on the programme it would not be possible for them to complete the training requirements of the placement and gain the skills, accreditation and confidence that enable them to make successful progress that they gained through the opportunity of a European placement.
The adapted and translated resource centers contain information specific to each host country (Bulgaria and Turkey) for which facilities include presentations, language lessons – downloadable language toolkits or interactive lessons, useful information about the host country and the project in the form of information packs, videos, photos, live webcams, customs, traditions, etc.
This was a powerful tool for the partners in the consortium to successfully implement future mutual assistance mobility projects benefiting marginalised groups from their countries.
RESULT 4: MUTUAL ASSISTANCE DATABASE
A legacy of the TOI project was the creation of a user friendly on-line database where potential partners both hosting and sending can upload the profiles of their organizations and type of target group/participants facilitating partner search.
The elements of the database include: Secure Log-in and password; A brief description of the organization; The needs that they require addressing (e.g. host country orphanage requiring re-decorating; sending country target group looking for project to host them on placement); Detailed Search facility, enabling searches by country, type of organization, type of target group, inclusion criteria, keywords, etc; Messaging Board facility; Case Study Section
All partners actively promoted the database in their countries and to recruited suitable organizations interested in Mutual Assistance to register and find partners.
A generic website http://www.mutualassistance.eu has been established for the TOI, in essence all of the elements of our current successful mutual assistance mobility project were transferred and translated into the partners’ languages, each country has now their own tailored resource centre, this includes information packs, language lessons etc.
The website also served as dissemination tool for the TOI project.
The site also hosts the database, as naturally one could not access it without the interface, which is user friendly.
The aim was really for the website to act as a coordinating organisation matching both sending and hosting countries; to this end we have introduced a search bar; In addition to the quick search asking for country, group (type of marginalised group), organisation (type of organisation, i.e. sending hosting, both) there is a more advanced search, for instance the users can refine the search to such an extent they can even search for individual words.
Once an organisation has been found that organisations page includes the Resource Centre.
However, Bhagavat Educational Trust will perpetually host and maintain this after the life cycle of the project.
Encouraging entrepreneurship, we have always considered opportunity costing, added value and the long term benefit of the proposals. From this TOI project evolved three main legacies, one of which is the mutual assistance database which is also hosted on the website, this database allows the facility to search, locate and communicate with potential mutual assistance partners and to encourage new organizations to the concept of Mutual Assistance
The website is a legacy of the project which continues after the life-cycle of the project and will be maintained and hosted by Bhagavat Educational Trust. A further aspect is that we anticipate through popularization and dissemination the database to be dynamic and forever increasing in participant organizations.
Organisations are able to search for partners on mutual assistance mobility projects, thus further popularizing the concept and assisting the popularization, multiplying of such projects and the mutual assistance concept in general.
Within the Europe 2020 Strategy, Member States agreed to work together to meet targets in the fields of education, employment & social inclusion, for the EU to become a smart, sustainable & inclusive economy. These reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity & social cohesion. The 2020 strategy calls for improvements in education & human capital: “in a rapidly changing world, lifelong learning needs to be a priority–it is the key to employment, economic success and allowing people to participate fully in society". This underpins the guiding principles of a mutual assistance mobility project, allowing opportunities for social and European inclusion to disadvantaged young people across Europe, who without such personal development opportunity and a life changing experience would have remained disengaged from society and lifelong learning.
BET fully agrees with the aspirations of the EU 2020 strategy and its objectives for which we feel a mutual assistance mobility project helps address the first 3 - employment, education, social inclusion.
We are convinced, that the perpetually growing database will be the Catalyst, for numerous project in the forthcoming years.
All of the above not only represent exceptional added value but is designed to derive long term benefit.
RESULT 5: BLUE PRINT GUIDE FOR SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS IN EUROPE
Due to the innovative nature of the project and after considerable research it was determined there was little or no information available on the MA concept.
Those instances that came to light did not fully embrace the concept of MA and in order to address this need through the Transfer of Innovation project we felt it expedient to produce a guide for implementation of such projects using experiences and lessons learned from this TOI with regards to the implementation of Mutual Assistance in each sending country.
The guide includes the following:
1. Introduction to the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme and how it can
support Mutual Assistance Mobility
2. The Role of Host Partners
3. The Role of Sending Partners
4. The Role of Accompanying People
5. The Disadvantaged Participants
6. Living and learning Abroad – past success stories and case studies
8. The Participant Learning Pack and Qualification
13. Dealing with problems and conflict management
14. Returning Early and Home Sickness
15. Personal Problems;
16. Medical problems
17. Serious Misconduct
18. Health and Safety
19. Checklist and Forms; etc.
20. Comprehensive information on the 3 stages, preparation, mobility & post project stages.
Having already a thorough understanding of the mutual assistance concept and the different elements it comprise of the second section of the guide was to establish a step to step guide on the implementation of the project.
Please note the availability date for this result was September 2013, however work towards achieving this result started earlier- we produced a guide based on the BET’s experience in running mutual assistance mobility projects. That was borne at the very inception of the project.
This guide was to a large extent the foundation that served for the basis of the final BLUE PRINT GUIDE FOR SUCCESFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS IN EUROPE through updating the original version to accommodate best practice and cross fertilization of knowledge that has taken place during the lifecycle of the project.
The website also serves as a dissemination tool for the current TOI project.
Please refer to the following link to see the guide to date - http://www.bhagavat.org.uk/TOI/The_project_%20guide_FINAL.pdf
Encouraging entrepreneurship, we have always considering opportunity costing, added value and the long term benefit of the proposals. From this TOI project evolved three main legacies, one of which is the BLUE PRINT GUIDE FOR SUCCESFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF MUTUAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS IN EUROPE.
It contains the whole history of the TOI Project and also guidance for how the project should be implemented in other countries. The research the 4 partners made in their own countries contributed to the adaptation of our current published guide.
The additions to the guide includes:
1. The history of the Mobility Project
2. The history of the TOI project
3. A short description of the first 4 seminars and the main outcomes
4. The profiles of the likely disadvantage participant
5. Researches in each partner country
Please note this is not an exhaustive list of elements, others were also included in the guide from cross fertilization of knowledge gained through the Transfer of Innovation project, enhanced by the findings from the implementation in different countries.
Our GUIDE could be found here: http://issuu.com/bhagavat/docs/guide_new2_altered_last