Visit to Vilnius,
19th-21th November 2013, Lithuania
The first visit of the project was hosted by coordinating organization Charity Foundation VA Caritas Social Projects. As it was the first meeting of all partners, in the beginning participants had some time to get to know each other, all organizations they presented themselves and told about their activities. Later the project was presented and the programme discussed.
During the visit participants visited Charity Foundation VA Caritas Social Projects activities related to social business:
Caritas Works is a candle workshop started in 2009. Every year Caritas Lithuania organizes Christmas candle auctions and on these occasions Caritas projects across the world can sell candles for donations which are then used for funding the social activities of the organization, to support people in need.
Up to 2009 the candles were bought from manufactures in other countries. At that time Vilnius Caritas began manufacturing candles itself, employing socially vulnerable people and giving them a chance for a better life. The target groups are people at risk of social exclusion, such as: people without permanent housing, long-term unemployed, those suffering from addictions and debt.
The workshop serves as a transitional work place, with the goal of helping people to gain skills and competences for the job market as well as raising a sense of responsibility. Approximately 20 people work in the project. The project is very successful in helping its workers find permanent jobs, pay off debts, get permanent housing and learn how to maintain it.
The initiative is managed by Charity Fund Vilnius Archdiocese Caritas Social Projects, a Lithuanian socially responsible company. The candle workshop is based in capital city Vilnius, but it’s candles are sold throughout the country as well as in other countries.
Café Agape was the first social business project of Charity Foundation VA Caritas Social Projects. It started as project for unemployed women, who got catering training, waiters, culinary training or training for administration a business. Women could get practical skills by working café, so they could learn and practice. Together with vocational training they got consultations of social worker.
Today Café Agape works as usual café in Vilnius and continues organize training for unemployed women and employs them.
Magazine “Human box”
“Žmogus.dėžė” (“Human.box) aims to provide an alternative work opportunity for people facing difficulties finding a job integrating them into the labour market. They publish a magazine which is sold by people participating in the project. Selling a magazine is an opportunity to gain new skills and competences and practice them as well as to earn some money – half of the magazine price goes directly to the vendor. Every vendor participates in a training course.
Vilnius Caritas Night Shelter and Day Centre for Homeless people
Vilnius archdiocese Caritas night shelter (or temporary home) is a temporary housing solution for people without permanent housing. Every year it receives around 200 requests and every night it houses 60-70 people. People live in shared rooms, they get some food packages and every person staying here has his/her own social worker.
It is the only night shelter in Vilnius city which non-governmental.
In the night shelter there is Open Day centre for Homeless People.
It’s low threshold service for people, who can simply come and spend some hours during the day in the centre. The social worker always works here, so anyone who needs can get consultation. There is also a reading room inside and small kitchen where people can make some food for themselves.
The idea of this Day centre is to provide a safe space for people where they can simply and relax without obligation attend some kind of activities. Staff tries to empower people to participate in the planning of the centre activities.
Salad Bar “MANO GURU”
It’s probably one of the longest operating social business companies in Vilnius. It is a salad bar which also works as social reintegration project. Founders of the project were – Municipality of Vilnius, Vilnius Center for Addictive Disorders and restaurant business company „Virsupis”. After successfully completing treatment in the residential rehabilitation center patients are invited to take part in the project – to work in the salad bar as cook assistants, barmen, and waiters. While working in the salad bar, participants of the project get professional skills training. After professional training (6 months), participants of the project get certificates, recommendations and referrals to other restaurants, cafes, and bars.
A Salad bar “My Guru” has got an award in a category of Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship in 2011 European Enterprise Awards
The support and charity foundation „Algojimas“
The support and charity foundation „Algojimas“ was founded on June, 2008. The main aim of privately held non profit organization “Algojimas” is to influence public opinion about disability while striving towards successful integration of disabled child and his family within society.
Foundation also sells some products that are made by mothers who receive also services in this foundation. This is the way to provide mothers who raise children with disability and usually can’t work full time with possibility to have some additional income.
Social Entrepreneurship Conference in Klaipėda
On the last day of the visits all the participants attended Social Entrepreneurship Conference in Klaipeda, where partners from St. Mungo’s Broadway and Charity Foundation Vilnius Archdiocese Caritas Social Projects were one of the speakers of the event. At that time this conference was one of the first ones talking specifically about Social Entrepreneurship in Lithuania and showing example of such business. So it was a great opportunity for the participants not only to get more knowledge about the concept of Social Entrepreneurship from different perspectives, but to discuss relevant questions with experts who were there.
Vilnus trip podcast by Suitcase Media CIC