Helpful small communities: Integrate disadvantaged women by applicable adult education

Operative adult education in context with social inclusion of disadvantaged women needs new input. It is important to find pathways for those persons and to help them to find a way back into the social community and stabilize their life in familiy and work. The common work is be focussed on social adult education in smaller communities / municipalities, on therapy inclusion programmes like joint household groups / social farming / gardening and strenght key competences like communication/languages. Adult education providers exchange and test good practice, how to devolop a good education and assistance system for vulnerable women.

Main subjects are: Operational task for pedagogic teams, requirements of the attendend group of women, establishing a "secured" frame where the therapy methods can take place and to win the local social-economic community as a helpful partner.

In meetings and study groups, attended by pedagogical staff and attendend women, innovative ideas will become more and more practically and be tested in the different locations. E.g. there will be lessons in soft skills and in foreign languages for the women, to support their active participaton in society and labour market and in using and exchange Europen wide knowledge. The experience in these topics can be used (from institutions and learnes) in a European wide knowledge transfer and supports special kind of (therapy) learner mobility.

The project partners are from Poland, Portugal, Latvia, Italy and Germany. Project duration: 01.08.2010 - 31.07.2012.

First project meeting in Germany - process and networking

In the middle of october 2010 the five partners met in Bad Zwischenahn for (1) teambuilding measures and (2) to have personal consultation about the pathways for a successfully project. All partners agree, that an operational work with disadvantaged people / women is a current point on European agenda. It will be a topic for project work, to organize secured frame areas for adult education in small communities and to support (re-) integration into society.

A visit in a - by women managed - company was included into the meeting. It was a good example, how often women have to manage difficult situations in the circle of life and how they solve problems.

All organisational questions of the project were be discussed succesfully in this start-meeting. The partners agree, that there is the chance, to do a real necessary work for the attendent group and to win those people for participating in adult education.

The team "Helpful small communities" decided for operational work quite near the concerned society group.

Second project meeting in Poland: Topic “Helpful Prevention”

2 persons from coned eG staff and 3 learners visited from 19.- 22. June 2011 our polish partner association Fundcja Zdrowie in Piotrkow/Belchatow in the centre of Poland. On the first day the half time review and the reports from all partner associations are in the middle of work. During the next days the host association gives a lot of information about the structure of assistance and guidance for families, especially women in the region. We are invited to visit interesting partners In the network of Fundacja:

Cultural Centre in Piotrkow. The OEA carries out the project of Human Capital Programme. The project is addressed to two age groups: the seniors (55+) and the children. This is the first project in Piotrków Trybunalski whose aim is to integrate two generations. People from the two age groups can take part in many activities. They have a choice between painting, theatre, photography and dance workshops. All classes for the adults are before noon, and for the children - after noon.
In the seniors’ group more women than men took part in the project probably because they live longer and are more interested in arts. The participation in the project was very important to them. They finished their careers, their children and grandchildren are grown up adults and they don't need their help any more. The involvement in this project gave those women the opportunity to feel appreciated and attractive again. It helped them to gain new energy and build new relationships. We are hoping that the new edition of the project will bring as many benefits to the local people as the first has.

The Polish Education and Working Agency APNET is currently working on the Human Capital Project for polish schools and foreign partners, which is found by European Union.
Many participants of the two last projects were women. Women situation on labor market in our region is more difficlut than situation of men. In the project "More skills more chances for job" the participants learned foreign languages and using computer in the work. In the project "Your skills- your future" the participants learn how to open own firm, they have knowledge about law for small firms and rules of accounting.

FERSO- the foundation in Łódź: The first meeting of the group of people interested in setting up the Foundation was held in early 2003. A dozen of people took part in the initiative group. Practically all those people came from NGOs. The signatories of the Foundation took the first steps of their social activity by working in Intercollegiate Ecological Lobby, then by creating the Center for Environmental Education "Milky Way", which has been transformed into a self-sufficient association Center of Ecological Action "Sources".

The daily newspaper "Dziennik Lodzki" informed about the Grundtvig project group and their visit in the culture centre Piotrkow Trybunalski. (Click on the foto to enlarge it).

Starting the applied phase

On the 3rd project meeting in the end of October 2011 in Rome it was decided, to start now with the important “applied phase” in the project. In this phase - in each country - the national participants (local work group) will work on a special topic. This phase runs from Oct.2011 to March 2012.

The main topics in the partner countries:

DE = Rural adult education and possibilities to include/support disadvantaged learners
LV = Test assistance courses (languages, IT, psychological) for disadvantaged women and check position in a helpful rural (education) community
PL = Publish experiences about prevention ( in context with ongoing project) in therapy magazine. Inform specialists about activities and strength European dialogue and exchange
IT = Check social inclusion methods in the frame of training for disadvantaged people, e.g. personal cross competences, more self awareness PT = Open school to region and disadvantaged women: Therapy workshop, theatre project, seminar, disadvantaged women met specialists, networking with regional social institutions



Helpful small communities applied phase coneed eG Bildungswerk

Topic: Rural adult education and possibilities to include / support disadvantaged learners



Support families in difficult situations Where we have to work on?
- Women are often alone in dealing with  difficult family and social situations

- Applied adult education / project work supports people in their involvement in social communities, especially in rural areas
- Social adult education in small groups stabilized people in the family and in daily work
- Discussion groups as a form of therapy can be solution to overcome difficult situations and to develop pathways how to manage
- Soft skills and language skills can promote the reintegration into the labor market

European network Why itīs needed?

- Learning from the supporting structures of adult education (in relation to women and families) in other countries
- Which tools and therapies are available in other countries?
- Are people - with the help of their "partner - school" interested in learning units abroad?


The working group coneed eG in common organized with LEB Aurich - deals with the following topics:

> Workshop > round table > to listen to experts > international exchange


Tuesday 24/01 2012
Start workshop = The agenda of the working group and planning activities. Heinz-Jürgen presents the project background and the foreseen international networking.  Working groups specify what is to do, to do have practical results in the end of the applied phase. Itīs agreed, how to do the common work and how to inform the interested audience and the stakeholders in the region.

Saturday, 24/03/2012 to Wednesday 28/03/2012
Abroad in Portugal: Participants directly from the working group: Charlotte, Irene. Together with other colleagues form coneed eG Bildungswerk they joined the 4th project meeting in Portugal. A lot of initiatives, how to deal with social advantages for older ones, for disadvantages persons and for women in difficult situations are presented by the host organization. The partners present the intermediate view on their activities in the applied phase, there is plenty of time for discussion and compare solutions.

In the social care center Vidigueira PT the participants from coneed eG could learn about generational and social cohesion and in which way assistance is given to disadvantaged groups.


Tuesday, 03/04/2012:
Round Table in Ihlow. Irene presents experiences and gives information "Women in problem situations"

Thursday, 10/05/2012:                                                                                                                                               
Round Table in Ihlow. Gisela informs about: Demographic change to combine work and care. According to the demographic situation, there will be a lot of older persons in the near future, who need care from the own families. The round table will discuss the, how to manage work and family care and why therefore often women need assistance and positive feedback from society mind.

Sunday, 10/06/2012 - Wednesday 13/06/2012
Abroad in Latvia. Participants directly from the working group (Johanne and Maria) and colleagues from coneed Bildungswerk will present further results from the workshop and learn about Lativan solutions in the field of Disadvantaged women in the middle of a helpful (adult education) community.

The hosting partner "NGO Malpils Folkhighschool"prepared a intensive program in order to do all necessary tasks connected with the project finishing, reports preparation and also with the aim to offer the guests the traditional Latvian culture. In the beginning the Malpils Mayor Aleksandrs Lielmezs spoke about the importance of such projects, especially for the countryside people. He said, that there are much more in a disadvantaged situation in comparison with the people in big cities, but the project gave them an opportunity to learn, to improve their knowledge in many fields and to test during international projects.

In the following meeting each coordinator made a presentation about the work done in each country during the last two years, it was a summary of all work done locally in their institutions. There were many various activities organized for local inhabitants, especially for disadvantaged women.

Applicable adult education in combination with therapy aspects, added by teaching soft skills in several areas and learning foreign languages, gives a feeling of winning competence and the chance to get in exchange with other people in Europe, who deal with the same kind of problems.

During coordinators meeting the learners took part in a creative workshop, leaded by a art teacher. They prepared a final "project product" together, a friendship tree for everybody.

Afterwards we visited Malpils culture center, where we were had a presentation about on Latvian cultural highlight: Latvian biggest Song and Dance festival. A creative workshop for the whole group "Latvia and the dance culture" followed.


Later on there was a final meeting with all the coordinators of the project to evaluate the meeting in Latvia and final the whole project. We made a summary of the activities developed so far and settle down rules for the final report, the documentation, the final questionnaire and the final products. We agreed about the final tasks and also about the timely and qualitative preparation of the final reports. We also gathered more information to the project website and organized the information for the final report.



Monday, 16/07/2012
During this day the local project team visited a senior house in the municipality Aurich. The management presents the house and gave a lot of information about advantages and all the obligations, which have to be fulfilled. Afterwards there was an extensive Discussion in the team about what has been seen on this day. It was decided to work on this topic, especially on the situation of older persons in the family and to find ways of more social assistance.


An outline from project work 


Lativa: Women in Malpils

Even though there are felt reducing of economic crises, still many families are on poverty threshold or are struggling with financial problems. We speak there not only about disadvantaged families or single mothers but also about families where one or both parents are unemployed and who have undertaken thoughtless big credit load and are leading weekdays struggling for living. Mother or grandmother who brings up one child or more children alone, feels emotional and physical overload. If it is supported with continuous many problems, then family is in the socially tense situation, that could lead to violence, addiction, health worsening and suicide threats.

There are developed strict socially historic opinions or stereotypes about the role of women and men in the Professional and also in private life household and looking after children are considered as women s responsibility, at the same time care for living earning is considered only as men s responsibility. This division is mostly based on cultural traditions and practice then on skills or abilities characteristic to male or female. The main differences between men and women are observed in the job market, where men hold higher positions and better paid job market sectors. So their salaries, pension and life welfare are higher.

Making inquiries with women who are attending foreign language and computer courses in the frame of Project Helpful small communities... , situation loom out ahead as equal as in total in Latvia.


The main factors that bring women to bigger risk of poverty during the whole life unlike man in Latvia and European Union:


 Small salaries, that mean smaller pensions

 Household care connected with children

 The only earner (divorce, lonely mothers etc.)

 Victims of violence, prostitution etc.

 Looking after old or disabled family members

 Women are more lasting unemployed

 Financial dependence from partner, including the loss of partner or divorce

 Employment index fall in connection with the birth of child.


Does financial crises influence men and women different?

There are not done such investigation in Latvia but in the frame of Project Gender Works European Women lobby- PROGRESS has published investigation Women s Poverty and Social Rejection During EU Recession. Unseen Crises? , in which there are studied connection between women s poverty, social rejection and EU financial crises and its consequences.

The main conclusions- yes, the crises influences women different then man, because, for example, cutting public financing in the most member states at the beginning of crises allowances for children, pensions, in health care, education and state administration sector mostly have influenced women. Undeniable the welfare of men also is influenced by crises, especially in the building sector and machine manufacturing but unemployment of women influences other family members poverty to the greater extent than men s , if we take into account that 80-90% of lonely parents are women who maintain children.



Portugal: Assistance/Training - Initiatives in Vidigueira

Training by workshops:

With the project the CEFAE hast started several activities/workshops, with the main purpose of improving women life conditions, their social, economic and cultural life, as well occupy their spare time, throughout inclusion life programmes, sharing experiences, create workshops for their integration and seminars /sensibility actins with specialist on the area. The project includes a total of 22 women, between the ages of 40 and 77 years old.



Workshop at Psychological therapy:

With the support of a specialized technician the aim is to promote a place of discussion and reflection, of sharing experiences; to support the development of parental and marital competences; to develop personal skills; to promote self confidence and self image; and to improve communicative and assertive skills.


Workshop at Plastic Expression and Handicraft works:

With this workshop we intend to stimulate the knowledge and expression of feelings through art; to facilitate the experience of creative meetings, providing moments of well-being and fluid interactive, so that participants can show their herself through the art.



Germany: A Dutch studentīs view on German partner activities


Outline of the article in the Hague university newsletter from summer 2011:

Alina Arnaut, student at the Hague University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) / Academy of European Studies, wrote a journalistic essay about the topics of the project (especially focused on the situation in Germany) and published this in the university newsletter in Summer 2011.


The project Helpful small communities is being run in the period from August 2010 to July 2012 in the 5 partner countries: Germany, Poland, Italy, Portugal and Latvia. About 100 disadvantaged women are expected to take part in the various activities provided by the programme. During the regular meetings participants study foreign languages, for example, English; follow computer courses and cooking classes; participate in therapy sessions; work on improving their technical and communication skills; organise theatre performances; learn, test, apply and give feedback on new educational methods of acquiring new knowledge and soft skills, developed for them by the qualified pedagogical staff.


Furthermore, disadvantaged women are engaged in a number of stimulating activities that

enable them to increase their intellectual abilities and physical capabilities, reveal their talents, develop their creativity, obtain their self-confidence and increase their moral standards and mental wellbeing. In a friendly and informal atmosphere of trust, togetherness, mutual support and care for each other even the most deprived and rejected women, used to being neglected, threatened and abused, start feeling their spiritual value and receive hope for a brighter future. Thus, psychological guidance combined with intellectual exercises provides opportunities for growth, resulting in an increased level of education, better expertise, more relevant competence and higher competitiveness of disadvantaged women as a potential labour force.


Furthermore, education increases the level of psychological and emotional wellbeing and confidence of disadvantaged women. According to testimonies in the official Grundtvig newsletter, the workshops and seminars not only teach individual skills to the participants; moreover, they encourage teambuilding and social skills of the disadvantaged women which helps them to integrate into the society, become more competitive on the labour market and improve their overall quality of life.



Poland: Transfer European knowledge to Piotrkow-Trybunalski

The social isolation of women The European issue

From August 2010 the Organisation for Health and Abstinence is caring out international project Helpful small communities. Integrate disadvantaged women by applicable adult education which is part of program Life long learning Cooperation between partners from Poland, Germany, Latvia, Italy and Portugal concentrates on the exchange of information about social education in small communities, therapeutic and preventive programs against for disadvantaged women, who are in difficult life situations.



The specification of actions undertaken by each partner differs depending on local factors.. Of course some of the problems are similar, what is recognised during recurrent meetings.

Women face bigger problems with finding employment and coming back to job market (for example: after maternity leave). These problems lead to bigger issues, like: social isolation, depression or addictions. In each country, participating in the project, preventive actions are being taken.

German partner educational institution from Bad Zwischenahn in Lower Saxony presented its actions, which consists of organising trainings, whose goal is to activate the groups at risk of social isolation (women, elderly, immigrants). Reaching those groups is possible thanks to cooperation with Evangelic Church and other social organisations.

In Rome (here is the Italian partner situated) we visited the International Women House. Itīs non profit, charity organisation with the funding coming from hostel rooms and conference studios rental as well as the restaurant. The Centre is located in the historical building from seventeenth century near Vatican and it consists of variety of organisations, which concentrates on helping women. Women can benefit from legal advice, doctors appointment and can contribute in cultural activities. They can also get involved in realizing projects. The International Women House helped also opening of a hotline for women, who are the victims of violence at home.

Violence at home, human trafficking, unwanted pregnancies are the problems, which are often met by employees in the centre. In some cases the international cooperation brings great results like with the polish organisation La Strada

The characteristic of action undertaken by the Polish partner is slightly different. The Organisation of Health and Abstinence organises workshops for women from various social groups (addicted, rural, etc.). Meetings with cosmetician, lawyer or gender trainer took place in Abstinence Club Palacyk and the Centre for People with Addictions in Piotrkow Trybunalski. During the project meeting in Poland guests from abroad visited institutions, which cooperates the Organisation of Health: The Centre of Women Laws and Foundation for Education and Development of Citizenīs Society in Lodz, which also support women. Visitors found it also interesting to visit the Centre fo Artistic Education in Piotrkow

Trybunalski, which realises a very interesting project, gathering elderly (mostly women) with children from backgrounds under the risk of social isolation.

Itīs well known, that social isolation is one of the major factors fostering the development of addictions. For that reason any preventive initiatives are crucial. The exchange of experiences, not only in our own country, may deliver many valuable information and inspiration for the future.

Italy: African women in Rom

The community of Capodarco and the Employer Service of the Provincial Administration of Rome have realized the project Job solutions through competences and citizenship , which involves 14 African women rescued from trafficking and slavery. They are quite young and come from Nigeria, Camerun, Togo. Each of them has been sold at least once, or by the original family or from gangs to other gangs. Cruel and harsh stories of girls swallowed up in a parallel universe full of crime, mafia, or simply full of other young people with no mercy capitalizing money for their survival.

The project is on from more than a year, and the girls are individually followed by the caretakers of Capodarco: the aim of the project is to give back to this young people the reason to live, a counselling toward the social and working integration, and to restore for them the possibility to gain more autonomy.

The main goal is to give back to them a new dignity and autonomy, says Rodolfo, one of the caretaker who follows the girls from more than a year. The caretaker explains that often in many other projects the focus on autonomy is not very treated and followed, because in various situations the solutions are structured to solve only a specific problem: e.g. Caritas only for starvation, the training centres only for the job development, the shelters for refugees only for the asylum seeking, etc. The solutions are fragmented and in fact this is not a good way to give to the girls a real autonomy.

In Capodarco we have tried to recover and take care of this factor because it is really strategic for the girls, especially in the country where they should be integrated, affirms Rodolfo.

During the last three years the community of Capodarco has worked with the immigrants, approximately 15-18.000 people, and has localized the development of the trafficking, getting support from some goodwill officer who still allocates some money.