The meeting took place in the unitary enterprise “ArtIdea” whose founder is NGO “BelAPDIiMI”. Besides, 2 united 2-room flats were visited within the meeting. 18 persons (employees of NGO “BelAPDIiMI”, representatives of primary organizations of NGO “BelAPDIiMI” from Zhitkovichi, Zhlobin, Kalinkovichi, Pukhovichi, Molodechno, Mozyr, Osipovichi and Bobruisk and the deputy director of Molodechno Territorial centre of social services to population) participated in the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting Natalia Ampleeva, the director of the unitary enterprise “ArtIdea”, told the story of establishment of the unitary enterprise, told about difficulties the enterprise faces every day. 16 people with disabilities work at the moment at the enterprise. This makes up 98% of the total number of people employed there. Despite the fact that almost all the employees are people with disabilities, the enterprise remains to be a business organization which has very little privileges when paying a rent. Unfortunately, changes happening in the current legislation do not favour the sustainability of the enterprise. Economic crisis in Belarus, absence of a sales manager and a marketer makes it difficult to produce and sell innovative and competitive goods made at the enterprise.
However, in spite of the difficulties the enterprise continues its work, new kinds of services are provided, different goods are produced. At the moment, there are 3 kinds of activities at the enterprise: printing, souvenirs making and the centre of modern technologies and development which was established in 2016.
Eduard Shipitsin, who works as a supported employment assistant in NGO “BelAPDIiMI”, acquainted the participants with the experience of the project “Accessible work”. This is the continuation of the project “First steps to work” which was realized by NGO “BelAPDIiMI” in 2012. The project “Accessible work” is aimed at integration of people with disabilities in the free labour market with the help of assistance provided to them in the process of job placement. Employment is important for people with disabilities: they can have a working place, their favorite job and additional means of living. All these allow the government to save up money spent on social support. The project employees constantly disseminate the project experience around the country. Thanks to that specialists of a day stay department in Vileika Territorial centre of social services to population managed to find jobs in the Children’s Republican Recreation Centre “Hope” for 8 persons with disabilities.
The NGO “BelAPDIiMI” inserted many proposals into the legislation, for example, to introduce the terms like “supported employment assistant” and “social enterprise”. Unfortunately, not all the suggestions were accepted.
Natalia and Eduard answered numerous questions of the participants at the end of the meeting.
Then the participants of the meeting got acquainted with the experience of the social respite care services and supported living services which are provided by the NGO “BelAPDIiMI” on the basis of the 2 united 2-room flats rented in one of the apartment houses in Minsk (Moskovskiy district). We were met there by Tatiana Grishan, a manager of the project on supported living. She told the participants about a day stay centre “Open Doors” which has been working there since 1998. This centre used to be attended by youngsters with disabilities who lived in Moskovskiy district of Minsk. When centres of corrective and developing education and rehabilitation and day stay centres in territorial centres of social services to population were established, there was no need to continue the work in the centre “Open Doors”. That is why we started implementing pilot projects there and testing new forms of services for families bringing up children and young people with disabilities. In 2012-2013 a social respite care services was rendered to families who look after children and young people with disabilities at the age of 3 – 21 (children who can move without assistance, children with psycho-physical disabilities, cerebral spastic infantile paralysis of 1st and 2d degree, Down’s syndrome etc.). Persons with psycho-physical disabilities received support of social workers and pedagogues, as well as volunteers.
Projects on assisted living have being realized within this centre starting from 2009. More than 40 young people with intellectual disabilities after 18 years old participated in those projects. The supported living service helps people with intellectual disabilities be prepared for labour activity and for independent life outside the boarding institutions.
NGO “BelAPDIiMI” constantly lobbied introduction of a list of new social services provided by state organizations into the legislation of Belarus. Introduction of the assisted living service provided by state organizations into the law of the Republic of Belarus “On social services” became one of the results of consolidation of efforts of the state and NGO “BelAPDIiMI”. Unfortunately, day stay departments which were established in territorial centres of social services to population provide this service only to people who have physical disabilities or sensor disorders.
Tatiana Grishan answered the participants’ questions about services based on her own practice and experience. The participants of the meeting had many questions to ask: how to organize the services, what qualification should employees have etc. When Tatiana answered their questions, she paid attention to the issues which have to be taken into account when organizing the service.
5 off-site working meetings were organized within the project “Improved social services for people with disabilities” starting from October 2016. Their aim is to acquaint primary organizations with the experience of realization of different services which are provided by different organizations and institutions. This will help primary organizations to choose the services which are necessary for their families, try to implement them within the project and reach their sustainability. The participants of the working meetings got acquainted with 14 kinds of social services which are provided by 10 organizations of different forms of property (non-governmental, state, commercial and religious organizations). Apart from that, the participants could find out about different forms of financing of services: social order, project activity, budget funds and sponsorship. Unfortunately, only 15 primary organizations actively participated in the off-site working meetings. That makes up only 29% of a total number of primary organizations of NGO “BelAPDIiMI”. For now, Kalinkovichi and Pukhovichi primary organizations defined the services which are relevant for their organizations and started providing them within the project. Zhitkovichi and Kobrin primary organizations will start realization of services in the near future. Zhitkovichi and Pukhovichi primary organizations also defined that sustainability of their services in their local community can be reached within the state social order.
We hope that the experience and knowledge gained during the off-site working meetings will help other participants to define in the near future the services relevant for children and young people with disabilities and their families and successfully realize them within the framework of the project.