Croatian Red Cross
ViDiM is a web design agency. PGŽlab is a social innovation programme DPC is a part of with Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and Rijeka Polytechnic. DPC works with the Croatian Red Cross on homelessness.
Lend-A-Hand is an online platform tackling the marginalisation of Rijeka’s homeless community. It creates a space where those affected by homelessness can advertise their skills and services to the local community. Lend-A-Hand will be managed by DPC who will support clients while using it. If they feel comfortable, those offering the skills can provide information about themselves, and those who have benefited from the service can leave positive comments; it will be mutually beneficial.
Services will be offered in the outskirts of Rijeka, Gorski Kotar, and the neighbouring islands.
Croatia’s homeless community face the burden of being socially excluded and marginalised from the world around them. It is often difficult to escape this exclusion due to a severe lack of opportunities for economic empowerment, which negatively impacts their ability to lead a more independent life. DPC has found there is a demand for particular skills that the homeless community can provide. Currently, members of the public contact DPC via telephone to ask if there is anyone available to assist them and the team at DPC, on top of their demanding workload, try to facilitate this. Lend-A-Hand offers a practical solution to connecting the service provider with the user, assists the homeless in finding an income source, and supports their reintegration into the wider community.
Social cohesion will increase as those affected by homelessness, often suffering from severe social exclusion, will have an opportunity to interact with the wider public. It is envisioned that the wider population, having listened to the homeless and heard their stories, will have a better understanding of their situation and be more able to challenge the negative stereotypes surrounding them. The wider population will have also actively helped to solve homelessness in their community by providing a means for homeless people to overcome one of the barriers they face: accessing employment. Meanwhile, by providing the homeless community with a means to develop their skills and earn money, they will be empowered to take the next steps towards a more independent and positive future.
The primary beneficiaries are the homeless community of Rijeka. In 2019, DPC worked with over 200 clients whose feedback will be prioritised throughout the project. All of Rijeka, however, will benefit. The project is inclusive as anyone who requires a set of skills being offered through Lend-A-Hand, can be involved. The digital nature of Lend-A-Hand means it is accessible to most of the population, and by engaging with organisations across Rijeka, a wide portion of the public will be made aware of it. Whilst there are members of the public who may hold negative opinions of the homeless community, they will be free to view Lend-A-Hand and see the positive steps they are taking towards a more independent life and the positive experiences of those who have benefited from their skills.
1. Create an extra entity and register as a social enterprise
2. Consult with professional web design company, ViDiM, to design, build, and maintain Lend-A-Hand
3. Raise awareness of Lend-A-Hand in the homeless community through DPC’s projects to identify interested service users
4. Invite participants from DPC’s existing skills training and mentoring programmes to join Lend-A-Hand, ensuring there will be services available when the platform launches
5. Advertise Lend-A-Hand among DPC’s established network of NGOs, partners, local authorities and media outlets
6. Ensure management of Lend-A-Hand at the day centre and facilitate the continuous support of service users by DPC mentors
7. Continue to be guided by service users’ ideas, experiences, and ambitions
This project's success will be assessed according to 3 key objectives. Firstly, if Lend-A-Hand works as a service; if it enables the wider population to identify a member of the homeless community with a set of skills they require. Secondly, if the beneficiaries feel an improvement in their self-confidence and social integration; we envision that Lend-A-Hand will empower the homeless community since it removes some of the barriers in society that prevent them from sourcing an income, providing them with the tools to build a more positive future. Thirdly, if the story-telling element of Lend-A-Hand improves the public’s understanding of homelessness and they feel more confident taking an active role in trying to improve the lives of homeless people in their community.
DPC is part of the wider Depaul Group which also has subsidiaries in the UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Ukraine, France and the USA. Throughout the organisation there is a culture of learning that encourages subsidiaries to share their experiences to ensure the Group is consistently improving its services. As such, by Lend-A-Hand increasing opportunities for economic empowerment in Croatia, the Group will transfer these learnings to the benefit of marginalised groups across the subsidiaries. The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH), a Depaul International and DePaul University initiative, was the first organisation to tackle homelessness as a global phenomenon. In both theory and practice the Depaul Group is committed to seeing the bigger picture and engaging with homelessness beyond borders.
DPC is a values-based organisation whose origins lie in the tradition of St Vincent de Paul. Vincent declared the “poor are our masters”, a statement deeply connected to the mission of Lend-A-Hand. DPC celebrates the potential in people; it is committed to empowering those affected by homelessness to become the decision makers in their own lives. Lend-A-Hand provides DPC’s clients with an opportunity to develop their skills, earn money, and take the next steps towards a more positive future. DPC also put their words into action, they are committed to finding innovative ways to tackle the problems faced by homeless people. Lend-A-Hand is the first of its kind in Croatia; it is ambitious and delves into a new environment. Entwined in the project are the values DPC was founded upon.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Website design and maintenance: 1,426.00 EUR
Equipment: 15,000.00 EUR (DPC plan to contribute 4,000.00 EUR towards equipment)
Management costs: 12,000.00 EUR
Initial set up is expected to take 6 months, with full implementation envisioned at 12 months. These costs are calculated for the full 12 months.