DISEMEX 9th Project Meeting

The ninth and final DISEMEX TPM took place in Maribor as a two-day event organised by the project partner Ozara and was set to discuss the finalization of the remaining project activities, the framework of the future cooperation with the partnershipa and as always included the best practice study visits.

The activities of Pupillam, a social enterprise operating in the environmental field were presented by its founding members Ida Harc and Tadeja Petrovič Cvilak. The company offers products and services and must create a profit to survive in the marketplace. Founded in 2012 the company offers environmentally friendly cleaning materials and other household products in their own store offline and online. Since the ecological awareness is raising in Slovenia over the last years the business concept has proven to be successful and since the first own online store “Zelena japka”opened in 2016, the physical shop was opened in 2019 based on a zero waste concept. Being a sustainabilityoriented social enterprise the pursuing to create a positive social impact through their operational policy and thus employ people from vulnerable groups, including the disabled, whom they try to involve in their work. With the help of the center for vocational rehabilitation of URI-Soča at the University Rehabilitation Institute in Ljubljana two vacancies of computer programmer and warehouse worker are now occupied by PWDs. The other focus of the company is employment of long-term unemployed persons. The representatives of Pupillam presented the concept of their educational workshops, a specialized program where the unemployed can gain practical knowledge, skills and work experience, and
then shared the plans for the near future in regard to further employment integration activities and business development ( f.e. opening a Zero Waste Center in Maribor, a new shop in Ljubljana etc.) and providing this way additional opportunities for employment of the disadvantaged groups.

AVANTUS, employment centre
Avantus is a another local social company, specializing in socks ironing and production of handmade toys, both made by the mentally handicapped people make wonderful toys for children every day. The concept, the history and the description of the production process and daily operations was presented to the DISEMEX partners by the company`s director, Matjan Cojther. The center becomes a fixed fee from the authorities to provide jobs, but besides this has to operate under the competitive conditions of the open market. Besides work the disabled employees become psychological support, trainings and participate in various social activities. Also the Social Activation project co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities was explained to the guests. It is designed to assist the long-term unemployed people who are enrolled in this program for 11 months. The participants strengthen social skills (communication, public speaking, stress management, etc.) and useful-functional skills (computer skills, writing applications, training job interviews or interviews). Within the program they exercise work activities in a real work environment and can try different job opportunities. Currently, 120 long-term unemployed persons have been included in the project through Avantus company. After a round of Q&A a tour of the center was made.

OZARA Employment Center
One of the subsidiaries of OZARA is OZARA Employment Center, which provides open market employment opportunities for people with small handicaps, sheltered employment for people with a grade of disability between 30 and 70%, as well as social rehabilitation programs for people with severe disabilities. Depending on the needs of the clients the center offers a full scale of support: psycho-social, trainings etc. All employees are guided professionally by a team of mentors. The center offers training and employment in a variety of jobs, such as cleaning, carpentry, painting etc. and operates on 3 locations in the Maribor Region. At the visited location besides vocational rehabilitation, there is a manufacturing of special window frames for campers. Jovita Kovačič made a presntation of the organization, which was folllowed by a tour of the frames production facilities, where 17 persons with different forms of disability are currently employed.