The 5th DISEMEX TPM took place in Palermo as a two-days event organised by the project partner CEIPES. The meeting included a management part, presentations of best practice case and one visit to the best practice institution.

Social Cooperative “Equonomia”

The participants visited the cooperative shop for generic food and fair-trade products, where some people with psychiatric diseases and mental disabilities are employed. The founder of the shop told about the history of engaging the people previously left outside the labour market. Having started with support of the local municipality the cooperative currently employs a number of people with such disabilities, who earn the standard salary for the hours the work in the shop.

Social Cooperative “Un Posto Tranquillo”

Thanks to the legislation aimed at support of social cooperatives introduced in 1991 it had become possible to establish businesses to employ people with disabilities.
Fabio Ruvolo told about the development of his initiative, when together with the municipality of San Cataldo they set up a cooperative to employ 5 people from the local mental health institution as part of the pilot project. During the first stage they were engaged once a week for 3 months and companied by a psychiatric doctor and a psychologist. Since it was the first working experience for the participants, a number of typical problems had been encountered and also here every single activity needed to be explained in very detail and brought by. Nevertheless it did work out successfully so the experiment, which had originally been planned for 3 months had lasted for 3 years. Out of 5 participants 4 stayed with the cooperative and socialized effectively and only one had to go back to the psychiatric clinic to continue the treatment.

Social Cooperative “Il Girasole”

The next project from a small town of Castelbuono was presented by the social worker Tommaso Marino, who has been introducing the concept of social management mediating various professional competences for local people with disabilities since 15 years, which lead among other activities to the establishment of two restaurants, where people with intellectual disabilities become an opportunity to get a job. The 3rd restaurant is to be opened in June this year and will include meal delivery also done by employees with disabilities. The restaurant, where 8 people with disabilities have work was represented by the owner and two employees. Both of them told, how happy they are to work at the restaurant and how they love their
job. Also the father of one of them (Danielle) was present at the meeting. He revealed a highly emotional story of how the became a father of a child with Down Syndrome, now 31 y.o., had to give up his job in order to take good care of the son, whom he love and is very proud of. Danielle has finished a regular school, than acquired a diploma as an electro-technician after completing a 5 years
VET-course. However, he always wanted to work in the hospitality field and was able to receive a traineeship for a waiter, which was co-funded by the state. Since 3 years he works at the restaurant with a regular contract.

The restaurant itself operates as an ordinary business, which has no special public subsidies and whose sustainability is based solely on the motivation and effort of the people involved as well as the local community, supporting the restaurant as an outstanding social initiative.

The participants expressed their appreciation on the efforts done by the presenters to promote the social and professional inclusion of people with disabilities despite the difficult economic situation in Sicily, in general and in its rural regions, in particular.