Pata-Cluj

Pata-Cluj

What is Pata-Cluj?

Pata-Cluj is a social intervention project which uses an integrated approach to social inclusion. Its aim is to prepare the social inclusion of the communities located in Pata Rât and Cantonului area, the most vulnerable group of Cluj Municipality and partly of the Cluj Metropolitan Area. The intervention is done through a multidimensional approach, using interlaced project threads to:

–          Increase the community’s participation in the mainstream society

–          Prepare desegregation and improvement of the housing situation

–          Enhance access to education, creative development and vocational qualification

–          Improve access to health care services

–          Improve employment situation

–          Increase access to social services and improve community security.

Our vision is, on the one hand, to assist the communities in Pata Rât in getting a better quality of life and have an overall better control of their own lives, starting from their living conditions, their education and employability, to their interactions and collaborations with the local authorities. On the other hand, mainstream public services (education, social assistance, employment, health care) will be better prepared to reach out for the most vulnerable groups in the society and to deliver culturally sensitive services.

Pata-Cluj, fully named ‘Social interventions for the de-segregation and social inclusion of vulnerable groups in Cluj Metropolitan Area, including the disadvantaged Roma’ is financed through the ‘Poverty Alleviation Program’, by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, with the total amount of 2 079 500 EUR.

The project threads

Thread 1. Empowerment and participation

This project thread builds and strengthens communication channels between the Pata Rât community and the public institutions. In all the four communities, the members will discover and learn about democratic representation and learn how to better represent themselves and mobilize for action. This way, the communities are better prepared to participate in development actions.

Thread 2. Access to social protection rights

Through the work of the social workers, community members obtain identity documents and access to social protection rights. Thus, around 230 families will be helped to access legally ensured social benefits and 114 people who don’t have personal identification (identity card, personal identity number) documents will be helped to get them.

Thread 3. Increase wellbeing

By implementing coordinated case management, identifying their needs and resources, case workers will assist families and individuals in improving their quality of life. Moreover, trainings and micro researches provide the tools necessary to different professionals from the mainstream social services to respond in a cultural specific way, according to the needs of the community.

Thread 4. Safer communities

High risk zones are being mapped by involving the communities in the Pata Rât area. Thus, the community builds this way a coordinated emergency response network able to respond to high risk conflict cases in a ghettoized environment. More than developing a safety plan for the Pata Rât area, it enhances the capacity of the community members and law enforcement specialists for conflict management and assertive behavior.

Thread 5. Social cohesion

We aim for more cohesive community by involving them in the planning and building of a youth center (Transit Youth Center). Community members are participating both as paid workforce and volunteers in the construction work. The Transit Youth Center is designed as a place for developing joint activities in education, culture and sport, where young people from Pata Rât and other young people from the city could meet and cooperate, develop actions and activities together. 

Thread 6. Social identity through cultural participation

To build the social identity of the Pata Rât community, the members will participate in various cultural activities established through participatory curating, an inclusive process to design, select and plan artistic and creative activities. Through open calls for projects, a series of artistic interventions in public space and cultural activities – workshops, performances, music jams – will be developed. Along with the cultural program of the Transit Youth Center, these activities will contribute not only to the cohesion of the Pata Rât communities, but also to generating closer links between people living in Pata Rât and those living in other areas of Cluj.

Thread 7. Access to quality education

This project carries out social assistance services targeting approx. 150 children and their families and the communities of at least 5 schools in order to prevent school dropout and to support school attendance. “Second chance” education program will be provided for children, youth and adults. Education will be supported with extracurricular activities for children and youth. Schooling for children of the most vulnerable families is ensured through continuing the activities at the Mobile Unit (hygiene, clothing, transport, accompaniment, meditation).

Thread 8. Employment opportunities

In order to raise the employment opportunities for the members of the Pata Rât community, the project provides “second chance” education and professional qualification. This translates into an improvement of the formal education status and an increased level of qualification for the Pata Rât population. At the same time, future employers and business people from the Cluj area will be made aware of the potential of the Pata Rât population as workforce. Through job mediation and mentoring, 70 people from the Pata Rat communities will get a job. Finally, a formal work environment is being created, owned by the community. In other words, they are developing their own social business.

Thread 9. De-segregation and the housing situation

To offer continuity to the whole project, conditions for writing and developing new projects, including social housing, are set up in the Cluj Metropolitan Area. Consulting the relevant stakeholders and writing new projects will serve for the de-segregation and the social inclusion of communities from Pata Rât area.

Thread 10. Raising awareness 

Creative communication campaigns will use arts to target different segments of the Cluj society to raise awareness about the efforts for the social inclusion of the Pata Rât population. On a broader level, professional networks on Roma inclusion at local, regional, national and European level will be informed regarding the results of the project.

The need for Pata Cluj

The existing strategy frameworks and public policy documents on social inclusion lack practical guidelines or mechanisms for implementation. The importance of the integrated participatory planning component is not recognized yet, but it is a premise of a truly inclusive and sustainable initiative. The standard interventions which address the improvement of the housing and living conditions, or education and employment of the disadvantaged Roma alone, are perceived by far as insufficient by the Roma themselves, and most often breed antagonisms and discrimination coming from the majority communities. Thus, an integrated approach is the second key element for improving the situation of vulnerable groups.

The needs addressed by the project converge with those expressed by the inhabitants of the settlements from the area expressed during several discussions and forums organized by the community facilitators within the UNDP technical assistance project (Preparatory Phase of a Model Project. Making the most of EU Fund for Sustainable Housing and Inclusion of disadvantaged Roma (explicitly but not exclusively targeted) in Cluj Metropolitan Area, in partnership with the Cluj-Napoca Municipality and the North-West Regional Development Agency, with the financing of the Open Society Foundations, Making Most of EU Funds for the Roma, http://www.undp.ro/projects.php?project_id=68), implemented between July 2012 – February 2013:

  • participation in the mainstream society
  • access to education and vocational qualification
  • access to childcare services
  • formal employment
  • access to health care services
  • access to safe, violence-free living environment
  • desegregation and the improvement of the housing situation.

This is where the innovative approach of the project comes from: to address the complexity of the phenomena of the social exclusion of the Roma through integrating the 10 project threads. Our aim is to open a space of reciprocity for the local institutions, the marginalized community, and the majority of the population. This ‘space’ would make real cooperation for social inclusion possible. Therefore, in our project the focus is equally divided between the institutional coaching and community coaching which are running in parallel, matching the Top-down and Bottom-up approach in local development.

The project proposes to lead an integrated local development process, mainly through ensuring the social and human development interventions necessary to support the sustainability and efficiency of the infrastructural developments for social housing initiated by the Municipality of Cluj-Napoca.

About Pata Rât

Pata Rât area is a spatially segregated informal urban settlement, in a condition of multiple deprivations near the city landfill, where currently approx. 300 families are living. The 4 settlements in the area formed mostly after repeated evictions of poor, mostly Roma families, from central areas moved to the city-outskirts. This combined with the immigration of poor people from the nearby villages coming to find means of survival in the landfill.

Current living and life conditions constitute constrains for adopting firm interventions from authorities for the desegregation and resettlement of the population from the Pata Rat area:

a) The waste dump is expected to be closed the latest in 2015 in the framework of a European project implemented by the County Council. Thus many families (approx.150) currently working in selective waste collection at the landfill will lose their source of income, while their very low educational and professional qualifications, combined with their family responsibilities, considerably harden their possibilities of employment. Considering the fact that the majority from these families have no alternative housing in other parts of the city or the region they will try to seek survival in the city.

b) Being a heavily polluted industrial area, approximately 6 km away from the city, conditions for local infrastructural development for decent housing are not hoped for the next 20 years (minimum environmental regeneration period).

c) Currently, the Pata Rat area constitutes the main destination of the marginalization slope for families who are at high risk of losing housing and employment in the city. Despite the extremely deprived conditions, the number of population is continuously growing.

The personal and family histories of people from Pata Rât and Cantonului area incorporate historical processes of political, economic and social change that disadvantage the Roma and deepen the divide between the majority and the marginal. Their struggles to ensure a decent living and a home for their children happens against a background of large scale unemployment, little state support for vulnerable and marginal categories and persistent prejudices blaming “the Gypsies”.

 

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Pata Cluj, fully named ‘Social interventions for de-segregation and social inclusion of vulnerable groups in Cluj Metropolitan Area, including the disadvantaged Roma’ is financed by the Poverty Alleviation Program in Romania, EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, with the total amount of 2 079 500 EUR.

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