Town Fiľakovo, with the financial support of the Europe for Citizens Program, implements a project called European Network for Social Integration Entrepreneurship: social inclusion and development of rural regions for a better European future. The international network called ENSIE combines local authorities, institutions, non-governmental organizations, educational and research organizations and specialists for knowledge sharing in the field of social economy.

The opening event of the project was realized in the second half of September 2017 in Fiľakov with the participation of partners from 10 EU countries. The activities were focused mainly on mutual acquaintance of the partnership members, to launch a professional discussion at the level of national and transnational perspectives, and to create a platform for the know-how transfer in the field of social inequalities balancing.

Due to the difficulty and distance of travel, the guests arrived to Fiľakovo the day before the professional events, where they were welcomed by the Town Management headed by the Mayor. The delegations on 21.09.2017 in the afternoon, despite the unfavourable weather, got acquainted with the historical and cultural-social values of the city. In order to effectively involve pupils and students and increase public interest in public affairs, a thematic program on the EU was carried out at the grammar school in cooperation with the Europe Direct Information Centre from Lučenec, where individual delegations were also represented. As an interesting peculiarity the guests, in addition to English, briefly introduced themselves in their own language, as the proof of the richness of cultural and language environment in Europe. Following the official part of the program an immediate debate was held between the youth and foreign guests. In parallel, the first meeting of the international project team took place at the premises of the Town Office, where important aspects of organizational and technical preparation for the implementation of the following events and of the overall project were discussed.

During the „Kick off meeting„ members of the partnership were presented. Their presentation was focused on besides the presentation of the partner organization, their mission, activities and results, also on the general presentation of the social business situation. The participants of the event learned about the background and system of social economy support in various countries of the Partners. The lecturers pointed out the possible problems and shortcomings, respectively the need of current solution development.

In order to bring together and connect European citizens of different nationalities and different languages, the organizers during the gala dinner provided a varied demonstration of the folk traditions of Slovaks and Hungarians living here.

In addition to the neighbouring municipalities also the mayors of communities of other districts expressed an interest in the opening conference on 22nd of September, local and regional non-governmental organizations, organizations in the field of MRC support, representatives of labour offices, district offices, educational institutions and regional development agencies from the least developed districts of the Banská Bystrica county and other interested parties in the field of social inclusion and employment support participated as well. In his ceremonial speech Mgr. Attila Agócs, PhD., the Mayor of Fiľakovo, presented the starting points and objectives of the project, the implementation of which the city is entering with great expectations in the area of using examples of good practice from abroad in the creation and operation of social enterprises. As a part of conference lectures recognized experts of the issue gave a talk. The lecturers of the conference presented renowned experts on this issue. Mr. Mgr. Branislav Ondruš, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family, presented the legislative environment of social enterprises of labor integration.

Mr. Ing. Anton Marcinčin, PhD, the representative of the Government of the Slovak Republic, talked about the possibilities of reducing the differences between the regions of Slovakia by supporting the least developed districts. Current issues of social integration include Roma housing, education and employment, and therefore Mr. Ravasz Ábel, the representative of the Slovak Government for Roma Communities, presented the strategy of Slovakia for Roma integration in his lecture. Mr. Marek Rakoš, the Mayor of Raslavice reported about the beginnings, activities and results of existing social enterprise. The afternoon was followed by presentations of partners on the presentation of the economic, demographic, ethnic indicators of the partner country, labour market and social business situation. The lecturers defined the target groups of work integration and defined the concept and legal background of social enterprises in different countries of the Union. In their presentations, as an example of good practice, they presented the work of specific subjects, presented positive and negative experiences, and defined the problems and opportunities of social business development. A press conference with the participation of local and regional media with nationwide scope was held during the event.

At the leaving the Project Partners emphasized their grave interest in participating and active contributing in solution of this complex issue with the aim of developing rural regions across the EU that are most affected by poverty and endangered by social exclusion of disadvantaged population groups.

The next ENSIE event will be held in the Czech Republic at the beginning of December this year with the aim of gaining useful information and direct experience in organizing the activities of existing social enterprises.

Mgr. Mária Lőrincz
Project manager