Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.
Block Grant for NGO and Partnerships in Slovakia
The goal of the Block Grant for NGO and Swiss-Slovak Partnership Support is to strengthen civil society as an important factor of social cohesion and sustainable development as well as to support cooperation between Swiss and Slovak institutions. It will support projects aimed at the provision of social services, protection of the environment and joint Swiss-Slovak Projects.
Strengthening civil society
- 22 sub-projects implemented, of which 9 in the field of environmental protection and 13 in the field of social services
- 18 Swiss-Slovak partnership projects supported
- 33 NGOs realized measures of their personal and technical development
- National State Institute North
The real development of the Civil Society in Slovakia started after the so called ‘velvet revolution’ in 1989. This development, which had to face many constraints during the last two decades, has still not reached a level allowing the non-profit sector to significantly influence public discussions or the state policy. NGOs lack stabile financial sources and they depend largely on funding from the 2% tax assignation mechanism. No NGO programme or development strategy is available in Slovakia. However, a governmental plenipotentiary for civil society development has been designated recently.
The goal of the NGO and Partnership Block Grant is to strengthen the participation of NGOs at addressing specific needs of the society and to reinforce the relations and cooperation between Slovakia and Switzerland. The Block Grant specific objectives are: (i): Increased accessibility and level of social services as well as an increased level of social cohesion; (ii): Enhanced protection of the environment, increased awareness of environmental issues and the application of sustainable development principles; (iii): Established network of cooperation among the Slovak and Swiss municipalities, institutions and social partners to promote and exchange best practices and transfer of know-how in variuos thematic areas.
Slovak NGOs; institutions of different types, municipalities, regional authorities
The Ekopolis Foundation administers the fund and organizes the calls for proposals for the identification of sub-projects. Ekopolis is responsible for the acceptance, evaluation and approval of proposals. It will ensure the monitoring and evaluation of sub-projects. Ekopolis will delegate certain responsibilities to its 2 partners, to Socia Foundation and the Carpathian Foundation, both being well recognised NGOs. The Intermediary will offer consultation and advice for the NGOs and applicants within the partnership component through seminars and other means. As well, the Intermediary will ensure publicity at level of the Block Grant but also require the publicity at the sub-project level.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Foreign state institution
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 5’510’901 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 4’947’350|
Phase 1 08.07.2011 - 31.12.2015 (Completed)
A safe place to spend the night
In the St. Vincent de Paul shelter for the homeless, over 150 needy persons come each night to find a safe place to sleep and enjoy a warm meal. In addition, they can get some clean clothing and take a shower. These are the first important steps to a dignified life. Furthermore, medical care is available to them. The elderly and the sick who are unable to leave the shelter during the day can spend their time in day centres.
A dispensary for routine first-aid treatment
The St. Elisabeth Centre is the contact point for minor medical problems like treating a wound. Homeless persons can drop by without having to make an appointment.
A clinic for medical care
The St. Louise de Marillac Clinic is 30-bed facility for in-house patients, offering medical assistance to people with serious and chronic health problems. The clinic has been conceived to provide services for, e.g., persons who have been discharged from public hospitals but, in need of follow-up care, have no idea where they can go to obtain it. Here they receive food, lodging, along with social and medical treatment and support.
Counselling for long-term solutions
Counselling services have been of overriding importance to the project ever since its inception. Trained professionals, including volunteers from western Europe, provide counsel and lend support to the homeless in their search for a way out of their needy situation. Qualified personnel do their utmost to assist the homeless in returning to a stable and independent life.
An increase in the social worker staff to 2 full-time posts will enable cooperation with the homeless to unfold on a more individual level.
The group and individual therapy sessions are the venue for formulating personal plans for the future and seeking longer-term solutions. By 2015, an individual plan for the future is to be formulated for some 60 homeless persons.
Training and specialized courses for the employees will enhance the quality of the services offered.
Both art therapy and occupational therapy are to be a means of improving the working capacity of the homeless, thereby increasing their chances of finding a paid job. At least 20 homeless persons per year are to take part in occupational therapy programmes in three companies.
A life in human dignity for the homeless in Slovkia
It is estimated that some 3600 persons in Bratislava are living in the streets. Al-though homeless individuals can turn to various institutions for assistance, the latter often impose their own conditions. In order to stay in these hostels, men and women must be sober and in a “decent state”. None of the homeless who perished in the winter of 2005-2006 had been able to fulfil these conditions. As a result, Depaul Slovensko opened an emergency shelter that accepted all of those who were in need unconditionally, regardless of their appearance. They were, however, submitted to a control for possession of arms and drugs when being registered for admission to the shelter. Ever since then, there have been no known cases of homeless people freezing to death out in the streets. In addition, the staff includes no security personnel, but only counsellors and support personnel.
The pilot project is made up of different components:
An ever-increasing number of chronically ill, immobilized persons and individuals who have been discharged from public hospitals and have no place to go to seek longer-term care, are calling upon the services of the Organi-sation. The winter of 2011-2012 turned out to be just as cold as that of 2005-2006; yet, while Bratislava registered no cases of homeless dying in the streets, several deaths due to hypothermia were registered in the neighbouring countries.
Plans for the next 20 years
According to a decision of the Bratislava municipal government, the shelter for the homeless can continue to occupy its current premises. This long-term support from the municipality will make it possible to make improvements in the building infrastructure and to enhance the services offered. For the moment, all of the homeless are being accommodated in the same room. The construction measures will for instance enable the sick to be separated from those with no medical problems, making the stay in the shelter more pleasant for all of the shelter’s guests.
Some other improvements envisaged:
These measures will create a new model for providing social services to the homeless, with the possibility of being replicated by other organisations that work with the homeless.
On mission for the homeless throughout the world
Depaul International, the umbrella organisation of various charitable organisations worldwide, is concerned with people living on the margins of society, in particular the homeless. Founded in Great Britain in 2004, the Organisation has centres in Ireland, in Ukraine, and in the United States. Depaul Slovensko (Slovakia) was founded in 2006.
Partnerships strenghten bilateral relations
The partnership funds set up under the auspices of Switzerland’s enlargement contribution facilitate the exchange of experience between institutions in the new EU member states and Swiss partners - in areas such as non-motorised transport, teacher training and biodiversity, for instance. The Swiss contribution to partnership funds for financing small projects is approximately CHF 25 million.
Switzerland possesses a great deal of knowledge in areas such as research and environmental protection, and in other fields too. Given the lack of experience of the partner countries in a wide range of areas (usually for historical reasons), Swiss organisations can consequently make a significant contribution to active knowledge transfer.
Focus on sharing experience
The partnership funds in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic support and foster institutional partnerships between Switzerland and the respective countries. These partnerships focus on sharing experience in the various fields. As a result, institutions and government agencies in the new EU member states can benefit from Swiss expertise and knowledge. This is also in Switzerland’s interests. Through the partnership funds, Switzerland is supporting around 280 small projects which will help solve concrete problems in the partner countries and improve the living conditions of their citizens. Only non-profit organisations are accepted as partners in both Switzerland and the partner countries, i.e. organisations that do not pursue any commercial interests through their participation in projects, such as foundations or associations. Public authorities such as municipalities or cantonal administrative bodies are also eligible to access these funds. Trade unions can also be admitted as partners. Town twinning is a traditional example of such a partnership.
First partnership projects already completed
For instance, Swiss expertise helped to implement a project to promote non-motorised transport in the Czech Republic. Another project concerned incorporating the rights of children in teacher training. As part of the Slovenian partnership fund, a joint research project to preserve biodiversity was implemented. In Poland the focus was placed on partnerships between towns and municipalities. For instance, Polish cities and municipalities can consult Swiss agencies in areas such as spatial planning and public transport.
Mutual benefits of cooperation
By expanding its horizons through establishing and maintaining long-term partnerships between public agencies and institutions, Switzerland also benefits from the mutual exchange of experience. Partnership projects allow Swiss partners to play an active role in reducing economic and social disparities between the new member states and the EU. Projects are submitted to the national institution nominated to manage the fund. A broad-based selection committee, on which Switzerland is also represented, decides which projects will be financed. The partnership funds set up as part of the Swiss enlargement contribution:
• will co-finance around 280 partnership projects;
• will create and foster institutional partnerships between public bodies in the new EU member states and Switzerland;
• will enable the exchange of specialist knowledge between the new EU member states and Switzerland to the benefit of all parties.
Strenghtening Civil Society
The Swiss enlargement contribution finances a support fund for non-governmental organisations (NGO fund) in all partner countries except Malta. The purpose of these funds is to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society in the socioeconomic development of the respective countries. The total contribution to all NGO funds amounts to around CHF 66 million.
In the new member states of the EU, civil society is significantly more developed than it was at the beginning of the 1990s, but it is not yet as well developed as in the older member states. NGOs suffer from various shortcomings: for example, they are poorly integrated in society and have a weak financial and institutional base.
A strong NGO sector is essential for civil society
The funds for non-governmental organisations in all new EU member states except Malta provide essential support for civil society in these countries. This will result in the strengthening of the NGO sector and civil society in the respective countries. In particular, it is often the poorer and socially disadvantaged sections of the population who benefit from a well-developed range of services provided by NGOs.
NGOs – indispensable players
By formulating concepts and taking action (in relation to vulnerable groups, minorities, the environment
and culture), civil society strengthens the democratisation process. It also helps make government agencies more efficient by ensuring that they take better account of the concerns of the population.
This applies both to specific action taken at a local level and to advocacy at the regional and national level. NGOs thus often deal with a wide variety of issues in daily life. The NGO funds will be used in particular to support social welfare and environmental projects. More than half the approved projects will come under one of these two headings. Switzerland will however also fund projects in other areas, for instance the increased involvement of citizens in political decision making processes and cooperation between NGOs and local government. In some countries, the NGO fund programmes have already been completed or are about to be completed.
Swiss organisations offer valuable experience
Involving Swiss partners in projects enables NGOs to benefit from Swiss expertise. Overall, just under 20% of the projects will be implemented with Swiss involvement. Swiss expertise and experience is extremely valuable on a number of fronts for NGOs in partner countries which are often working in a new environment and therefore lack experience. For instance, Swiss NGOs can help their partners cooperate with the government, encourage young volunteers, or even help with bookkeeping. Swiss know-how enables organisations in the partner countries to implement efficient and effective projects directly, while making optimum use of their financial and human resources.
Targeted support for civil society is also in Switzerland’s interest
Thanks to partnerships with organisations in the partner countries, Swiss organisations are also able
to extend their networks and expertise. The mechanisms of the NGO funds favour these partnerships. Moreover, Switzerland also benefits from the activities of NGOs, as many aspects such as economic exchange, migration and environmental protection are interrelated and are of international and even global relevance in some cases.
The NGO funds set up as part of the Swiss enlargement contribution
• co-finance some 700 projects totalling CHF 66 million
• strengthen the NGO sector in the respective countries and consequently support civil society
• have also resulted in the creation of partnerships between foreign and Swiss organisations for around 150 small NGO projects
• is enabling projects primarily addressing social welfare and environmental issues, as well as other problem areas, to be implemented.