Toolkit of GOOD PRACTICES on Citizen Participation!


Community centre


Country: Bosnia and Erzegovina

Context

Since its establishment, Local Democracy Agency Prijedor has been supporting activities on socialization, integration, poverty reduction and other similar initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life of socially vulnerable groups. For many years it has helped day care centers in rural and urban areas of Prijedor hosting elderly with or without a minimal income and without family care. In 2013 we opened in Ljubija – once a mining settlement and now the place with the highest number of poor in the municipality of Prijedor – a Community centre, besides its main function of club for elderly people, also has a public kitchen securing hot meals for 25 of the most vulnerable users. Within the same center there are the offices of the “Association of women”, the Centre for social work and the Social Council, the body that manages the Centre: basically all key stakeholders in the local community. During this year of cooperation with the Municipality of Prijedor we decided to work on expanding the social center in one of three refugee settlements, that would have a multifunctional nature and would implement activities for children, young, unemployed, elderly, persons with special needs, large families and minority groups. The main problems of the residents of all three selected local communities are the unemployment rate of work-capable and qualified people as well as an insufficient materialistic supply for the work-incapable (elderly, sick, those without family care), reflected by the difficulty in ensuring basic goods and services (covering the costs of food, clothing, adequate health protection, personal care, covering overhead expenses, education of children etc.). Such issues are the main cause of the increasingly frequent sociological and psychological problems within these groups, having a negative impact on the overall life of their families and the wider social environment.

Measure

The aim is to improve the quality of life of all strata of the population in social need, highlighting their problems.

Specific objectives:
Improving the quality of time spent by all users of the Community centre through creative, entertaining and educational activities that will be implemented there
Improving the level of services in the domain of social protection through security of consultancy services offered by competent facilities
Raising the awareness of the local community about the social problems of the poor and about non-institutional forms of social protection
Motivate the target group of users of the Community centre so they attend and participate in its activities
Maintaining and improving the partnership cooperation with relevant institutions, as well as increasing the financial sustainability through secure donations and support of the local community

Target Group

Children and youth
Elderly people
Large families
Unemployed persons
Persons with disabilities
Minority groups

Methodology

The methodology is based on a participatory method, involving all stakeholders in the local community to identify priority issues and then designing and implementing a sustainable project. In this case, we mean primarily the city of Prijedor, the Center for social work, local communities, as well as non-governmental organizations that operate within these local communities, such as youth organizations, associations of  pensioners, associations of minority groups, associations of persons with special needs etc. They are responsible for the project, and we provide them with support, reflected by the organization of meetings on topics of problem identification, organizational structure, way of functioning, ways of raising extra financial resources, capacity building.

Stakeholders

Local government
NGO sector
Department for social cases

Assessment

Improved quality of time spend by all users of the community centre
Awareness raising in the local community about the social problems of the poor and the non-institutional forms of social protection
Supported children and young to strengthen their capacities and foster changes in their behavior
Maintained and improved the partnership cooperation with relevant institutions, as well as increased financial sustainability ensured through donations and support of the local community

Impact

Through activities of good quality free time, users would be sociable, creative, more motivated to action, less depressed and more optimistic
Beneficiaries would become more aware of their legal rights and hot to make use of them
The local community would be more involved in social issues and would also plan better programs for dealing with them
Thanks to the cooperation on various subjects, a network or platform would be created at the local level that would be dealing with issues in the social domain, finding ways to solve them

Swot

1.    Strengths (characteristics of the measure that give it an advantage over others):
Possibility of grouping certain social categories in one place
P of joint action in order to resolve certain issues
Greater visibility in local community
2.    Weaknesses (characteristics that place the measure at a disadvantage relative to others):
Unsecure founding sources
Disunion between centers
Lack of qualitative content
Lack of interest for participation
Inadequate staff in centers                                                   
3.    Opportunities (elements that the measure could exploit to its advantage):
Possibility of finding additional financial resources through the projects
Possibility to participate in various educational programs and activities
Reduced quantity of risky behavior                                                           
4.    Threats (elements in the environment that could cause trouble to the measure):
Political manipulations with the centers
Lack of interest of local authorities to support community centers

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