Reform Fund Linked to the
Inclusion of Roma and other Vulnerable Groups

HEKS Consortium

Project’s name: Social inclusion and improvement of living conditions for Roma and other vulnerable groups in the counties of Mureș, Cluj, Bihor, Alba, Sălaj and Covasna. This Activity has ended on 30.06.2019.

The HEKS Consortium
HEKS Foundation, Switzerland as lead agency;
FAER Foundation, Reghin Romania;
Diakonia Christian Foundation, Cluj, Romania;
Diakonia Christian Foundation, Covasna, Romania;
Orthodox Philanthropy Association, Alba, Romania.

Alba: Aiud, Alba Iulia, Cugir, Galda de Jos, Ocna Mureș, Rădești, Sântimbru, Sebeș, Silivaș, Unirea, Veseuș;
Bihor: Cadea, Cherechiu, Ciocaia, Cubulcut, Curtuiușeni, Diosig, Oradea, Petreu, Roșiori, Săcueni, Sâniob, Munte;
Cluj Bonțida, Cluj Napoca, Cojocna, Huedin, Mera, Răchițele, Suatu;
Covasna: Boroșneu Mare, Covasna, Reci, Sf. Gheorghe, Zagon;
Mureș: Batoș, Beica de Jos, Dumbrăvioara, Ernei, Goreni, Gornești, Glodeni, Iernut, Luduș, M.Niraj, Ogra, Periș, Petelea, Reghin, Sânger, Mureș, Ungheni, Vătava, Vărgata, Voivodeni;
Sălaj: Cehu Silvaniei, Fildu de Sus, Pericei, Simleu Silvaniei.

The overall objective of the project is to improve the living conditions and the social inclusion of the Roma and other vulnerable groups’ communities from the project’s region.

Duration of implementation: 01.05.2013 – 30.06.2019

Value of SDC's co-financing: CHF 4'600'000

Project objectives

Education component. The main goal is to integrate Roma children into mainstream education system by establishing, institutionalizing and up-scaling various supplementary education support such as after-school classes, catch-up summer kindergarten, other support in pre-school and primary school level and enhancing inclusive education. Partners in this process are the parents, as well as the teachers and auxiliary personnel. Intervention will be done with close cooperation with the school inspectorates and municipalities and be integrated into the regular school system. It is expected that the school enrolment of Roma children and other vulnerable groups will increase and that the project beneficiaries will manage to achieve better educational results.
Health and social assistance component. The main goal is to improve social services by informing the Roma and other vulnerable groups about their right to access medical services and health insurance; offering assistance for registration; information and awareness raising on health issues; medical service, nutrition, hygiene, childcare, family planning, social counselling. It is expected that the number of those who are not insured will decrease; the access to public health and social services will be improved; health situation of the target groups will also be improved.

Employability, employment and income. To improve vocational education and income by fostering access to vocational trainings (access to accredited courses) and micro-business development (self-employment). The objective here is to develop a model of social inclusion by adequate professional information of Roma people, facilitating their access on the job market and promoting self-employment in order to reduce social exclusion, discrimination and poverty. With the project extension - besides increasing the number of beneficiaries - the business sector will be targeted as both potential employers and cooperation partners to collaborate with Roma (individuals, groups or enterprises) as sub-suppliers and/or service providers along value chains with comparative advantages of the Roma.

Improving Living/Housing conditions. To support Roma to improve themselves their desperate housing conditions. This shall lead to better living conditions in substandard Roma settlements with extremely poor conditions. This intervention has a positive impact on health situation and education of the children as well. Improving of living/housing conditions shall be linked to the other project components, leading to a comprehensive approach. The dweller driven house up-grading approach shall be established as most effective and efficient approach.
Transversal themes as human rights, children’s rights, participation, non-discrimination and gender issues are criteria included in the activities to be performed in order to achieve the project’s objectives

Results achieved in 2017

In 2017, not only the children in Mureș, Cluj, Bihor, Sălaj, Alba, Covasna counties have participated in educational programmes, but also the children from Harghita. Therefore, 2346 pre-schoolers and pupils have participated in curricular and extra-curricular activities outside regular school hours or during the summer holiday.

82 municipalities have joined the efforts to implement and supported with financial, human and material resources the improvement of academic achievement, practical and social abilities of the children. At the same time, the parents have participated in activities with teachers, teaching assistants and social workers. 

A partnership was established with the Teacher House in Cluj Napoca to create and deliver a course focused on working with vulnerable groups. The training includes measures for increasing social inclusion in the school environment. After the approval of the Ministry of Education, the teachers of the county will participate in the course.

In Cluj and Bihor counties, 1600 persons have benefited as a result of health and social work activities organised in their localities, such as: home care and palliative, information campaigns concerning public health and access to social services, support to enrol to family doctors and vaccination campaigns. These are implemented through case management.

The success of the economic component is continued in 2017. All participants to Vocational Trainings have formally finalised the courses. They improved skills in trade, medical assistance, road constructions, cooking, care-provision to children or to elders and in other service delivery areas. In Mureș and Cluj counties, 200 persons were mediated on the job market. 28 micro-loans were provided this year, reaching 42 since 2014.

28 families have used materials under professional supervision from the project team to improve the housing conditions. The concrete building is done through the efforts of the members of the family or with support from neighbours.

Results achieved in 2016

In 2016, 2577 children in 70 localities in Mureș, Cluj, Bihor, Alba, Sălaj and Covasna, participated in educational activities implemented in the localities by a consortium led by HEKS Switzerland. Within the total number of children, 500 pre-schoolers participated in summer kindergartens organised in Cluj, Bihor and Sălaj, with the aim to prepare for 0 grade. 2081 primary and secondary school children participated in education programmes outside regular school classes, where they completed their homework and improved their social and practical skills.

The parents of the children were invited to at least two meetings with the school personnel in order to increase the parental support toward academic achievement of their children.

750 persons in Cluj and Bihor took part in health programmes (mostly information and home care).  86 persons took part in vocational training, improving their skills in providing palliative care for elderly people, in constructions, in trade and services (cooking).

271 people in Cluj and its surroundings were mediated on the job market. 8 micro-loans were provided throughout the year, which were all paid on time. 25 families worked to improve their housing, with materials and advice from the project team.

Results achieved by 2015

62 after school classes in the six counties where the project is implemented (more than 1400 direct beneficiaries) were functional at the beginning of 2016. Between August and September, a total of 557 children have participated in the summer kindergarten activities. In order to stimulate group cohesion, there are organized group events to which all pupils may participate, independently of their regular participation in the after-school activities. The group events are sport contests, reading groups, cultural events or field trips.
There are organised meetings with the parents on monthly bases. The goal is to inform the parents on the learning progress of their children and to encourage them to support them in the educational process. The teachers are involved in lifelong learning activities, 50 of them being trained in social inclusion.

Health and social work
In order to achieve more results in the communities, the health and social assistance component is implemented in close connection with the education component. At the beginning of 2016, in total, at project’s level, in 12 communities from Bihor and Cluj have been provided medical and social assistance services to 1500 beneficiaries.
3 Roma communities (2 from isolated rural areas) benefited of full access to accredited health and social services provided by the project, while other 6 benefited of accredited social services and hygiene education. 120 uninsured Roma adults received free medical services at their home, 600 Roma parents were informed about basic health, 430 Roma families were socially counselled and 430 Roma children were educated to have a proper hygiene.
At local level, 500 adult couples have been informed regarding their rights and responsibilities by social workers. After analysis, 160 families were selected to be further supported by social workers in improving their life style.
In 4 of the Roma communities one member was trained in providing home care services. Together with a nurse, the team pays visits to local settlers in order to provide socio-medical primary services at home. By July 2015, 93 persons have benefited of these services. When the multidisciplinary team identifies other needs at family level, they provide support in meeting these needs.
400 persons participated at 10 information campaigns organized by general practitioners in Cluj and Bihor. 85 families have benefited of family planning counselling and services.

Economic empowerment
Three vocational training courses were organized with a total of 64 beneficiaries and 58 graduates. 17 Roma families started or continued their small-businesses. Due to a guarantee fund they could take micro-credits with a total amount of CHF 128’000. All the businesses ran successfully throughout the year, no financial means was necessary from the guarantee fund to cover bad loans or write-offs, as the loan is monthly paid on time.

28 families are part of the pilot programme through which they receive support and materials in order to make the needed changes to their households, so that their living conditions would be improved.

Achieved results in 2014

516 Roma children of pre-school level and primary school level are supported by kindergarten or after school activities. Institutionalization of extra-curricular educational services in place in 1 community.

Health and social assistance
40 Roma adults and 10 Roma children were supported to get registered. In the hygiene and health education information campaigns have participated 480 children and 285 adults. 8 awareness raising activities on health issues were implemented with 285 participants.