My impressions of Barka -Jan Olsson President of European Network of Regions and Cities for Social Economy REVES
My impressions of visiting Barka Network in Poland on 16 – 18 January 2012
Barka is impressive
In a relatively short time Barka has developed into the largest social and solidarity economy network in Poland.
Barka has shown that partnership between social economy/ngo/third sector and public authorities has been a crucial factor to combat social exclusion successfully through organising social and economic activities.
Barka has developed the partnership at all levels – gmina/powiets/regions/government.
There are similar experiences as the Barka model in other European countries. Interesting with Barka is its organisational model where bottom up is combined with a strong central support organisation. At the bottom you will find democratically run self-help communities and in parallell associations where also other local stakeholders can take part. Work is organised in social integration centres and social cooperatives. But the people living in the Barka communities do also work in other local enterprises.
The Barka foundation is both a support center and develops new initiatives. It reminds me of the “social franchising” concept that is developed in other countries. The Barka model is replicated in other parts of Poland. It could still be
disseminated in many more. And certainly theTomasz and Barbara Sadowski play an important role. But Barka could not be as it is today without Tomas, Merek, Anna, Andrej and all others.
The methods and the values of the model we find in other European initiatives. First of all it is people-centred. Democracy, solidarity and sobriety are key aspects. By empowering and giving responsibility to the individual persons those persons will increase their potentials and is a factor for success. The Barka isintegrating the European dimension in their work and have been given many international awards. They are also taking part and creating their own European networks.
Therefore I think that there is a mutual interest for both Barka and REVES that Barka becomes a member of REVES.
President of European Network of Regions and Cities for Social Economy REVES