Offering professional services of well-trained persons with intellectual disabilities to companies
- Social Enterprises
- Pentru Voi Foundation
- Country of Implementation
- Central and Eastern Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“I like to be employed, to have my salary, and to be independent. I like to work every day and to have colleagues. I do not want to stay home alone.” Cristina Csizsec, Pentru Voi Foundation beneficiary
Established in 1995, Pentru Voi Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides community- based services and advocate for the rights, inclusion, and welfare of persons with intellectual disabilities. At the foundation's three social centres located throughout Timisoara, Romania, more than 200 persons with intellectual disabilities have received a variety of services to prepare them for employment opportunities.
Almost all persons with intellectual disabilities in Romania are unemployed, primarily due to lack of support and educational opportunities. Of the known 102,475 adults with intellectual disabilities living in Romania, only 809 were employed as of March 2016).
Solution, Innovation and Impact
With its Social Enterprises programme the Pentru Voi Foundation promotes the social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the work place through various activities, including: · Personnel leasing: Under the supervision of a support person, the foundation “leases” its trainees to various companies for a specified period. · Job coaching and skills enhancement training. · Collaborations with various companies whereby persons with disabilities, supervised by a support person, are appointed to tasks such as assembling, sorting, recycling, packing, green space care, parking space demarcation, electronic components testing, and cleaning. Clients of these services are primarily private companies (about 90 per cent) and some public institutions (10 per cent), including Vodafone Romania, Continental Automotive, Nestlé, Kromberg & Shubert Romania, and Smithfield Foods.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The social enterprise model is transferable and can be replicated on a national or European level. Moreover, the Pentru Voi Foundation promotes the model at national and international conferences and through a variety of media publications. The foundation states that in 2009 it influenced the modification of Romanian Law 448/2006, which addresses the protection and promotion of rights of persons with disabilities regarding employment. In addition, the foundation’s social services were the basis for drafting the quality standards for day-centres and protected housing in Romania.
THE STORY OF LUMINITA CALDARAS, SELF-ADVOCATE AND EMPLOYEE
“I have my own salary and am independent.”
My name is Luminiţa Căldăraş. I am 37 years old and I have an intellectual disability. I was born in a village in west Romania into a very poor family with eight children. My parents couldn’t take care of us. We lived in one room with no beds, no toys, and sometimes no food. We collected recyclables and sold then to earn some money. When I was eight I left home and went to Timisoara, the largest city in western Romania. There I lived on the streets for almost 10 years, begging for money and food. My only friend was a dog. By the time I turned 18, I had been taken to several state institutions in various cities, but the living conditions were very poor there as well and I would always run away. I didn’t go to school at all. It was in 1999 that I found out about the Pentru Voi Foundation, and it changed my life forever. The foundation supports people with intellectual disabilities, and now I live in one of Pentru Voi’s protected homes, where I have my own room. Living here I have learned a lot of things, such as how to communicate with my colleagues, to cook (I even took a cooking training course), to clean, to make candles, to work in the garden, and even to read. Since 2012, I have been a full-time employee of Pentru Voi Social Enterprises. My main job here is cleaning, but I also do other activities such as assembling, sorting, and gardening. I now have my own money, so I can buy food, clothes, and other things I need. I also have the ability to visit my poor family from time to time. In addition, I was elected as a member of the European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) board, and I represent EPSA at the Women’s Committee of the European Disability Forum. I speak on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities from my country, and I promote their inclusion and respect for their rights.