Joining Together To Reduce Poverty through Partnership (11/2013 – 10/2014)
Project Applicant: European Anti-Poverty Network Lithuania
Project Partner: Civil Society Institute
The level of poverty and social exclusion in Lithuania has not changed during all the years of independence – even in good economic times approximately one in five inhabitants of Lithuania experience deprivation. The voice of socially disadvantaged persons is not heard, because they are rarely represented in an organized manner, and when they are represented, it is usually by individual organizations that are relatively weak and do not work in a consolidated manner, thus they are not as effective as they could be in defending the interests of persons experiencing poverty and social exclusion.
Purpose of the project:
To rally civil society to address the problem of poverty and social exclusion in Lithuania by expanding the network of anti-poverty organizations and strengthening the capacities of its member organizations in cooperative efforts, and encouraging public understanding and tolerance of the poor. The basis for such organized efforts was the Lithuanian anti-poverty association EAPN Lithuania, which was strengthened and expanded during the course of the project.
In the course of the project, a methodology was prepared for conducting seminars in the regions for anti-poverty organizations and helping them undertake concrete actions, and teams of volunteers and regional participants were organized to address concrete problems. In each of five Lithuanian regions (Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Panevezys), two thematically different seminars were conducted (a total of ten seminars). One theme of the seminars was the issue of poverty and social exclusion and possible policy solutions to address them, and the other theme covered ways to strengthen the organizations themselves by increasing their skills in advocacy, communication, and fund-raising. In this phase of the project, participants were being prepared for independent work according to guidelines for “homework” outlined during the seminars.
During the independent action phase of the project, the groups undertook “practical actions”. Advised throughout by the project experts, the groups discussed concrete laws affecting the poor, previous anti-poverty strategies, and generated proposals for reforms. They organized over ten fund-raising actions, sent letters proposing changes in laws to the relevant political authorities and issued press releases on these proposals. The NGOs were also encouraged and taught to present themselves and their activities to their communities: together with invited lecturers, they presented information about various aspects of poverty to meetings of Civitas clubs (local civic society discussion groups) in various regions. In this way they tried to increase the community’s understanding of poverty and tolerance for at-risk social groups. Since the basis of the regional teams was formed by EAPN Lithuania’s member organizations and volunteers, these common activities with experts strengthened the network itself, activated it and increased public awareness of the network and poverty issues, also encouraging the spread of good practices.
Project results and EAPN Lithuania’s proposals for improving concrete social policies were presented at a concluding conference at the President’s Office on 15 October 2014.
The project partner was the Civil Society Institute.
Main project results:
• A methodology was prepared for conducting seminars in the regions and for undertaking concrete actions.
• Ten seminars/trainings were conducted in five Lithuanian regions: Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Panevezys.
• Working groups were formed and individual NGOs were activated, proposals for improving social policies were generated.
• Five proposals for improving social policy were generated and disseminated. Specific recommendations were made regarding certain aspects of the deinstitutionalization of children’s homes, the pension system, the social assistance system, the methods bailiffs use to collect debts from indigent clients, and services for the long-term unemployed.
• Over ten fund-raising actions were initiated.
• Five discussions on social policy at Civitas community clubs were organized.
• Organizations working in the anti-poverty field were strengthened.
• EAPN Lithuania was strengthened: the network acquired eight new members; its administrative and project management capabilities were strengthened; its internal and external communications intensified; it received financial support from donors in Lithuania and abroad.
• The network became better known among other NGOs, government agencies and the public.
Total project cost: 36208,31 Euro