Developing Skills Regarding the Empowerment Concept as the Basis for Assisting Socially Excluded People
Katarzyna Borzucka-Sitkiewicz and Katarzyna Kowalczewska-Grabowska
University of Silesia
The system of social assistance and social work, both in Poland and the entire European Union, faces new challenges related to the emergence of new problems (i.e., increased socio-economic inequalities or intensification of migration processes) and insufficient measures taken in this area. Intensive migration processes and the uncertain situation resulting from the ongoing military conflicts cause an increase in cultural differences, which intensify the phenomena of marginalization and social exclusion of minority groups, which cope worse in new conditions, and often have problems with accepting the existing social-cultural norms. The Acting in Context by Training the Trainers in Social Empowerment (ACTTE) project was prepared in response to these needs. It is based on the concept of Empowerment, which emphasizes the social strengthening and restoration of the total possible participation of individuals, groups, and communities, which, as a result of various historical, socio-biographical processes, have been marginalized, neglected, or excluded (Bennett Cattaneo, Chapman, 2010).
The project was carried out in a consortium consisting of 4 universities and 4 NGOs from Poland, France, Spain, Italy, and Belgium. Funds for its implementation were obtained from the National Agency for Academic Exchange, Poland. The main goals of the project were:
• development of tools for intervention work (toolbox) based on the concept of Empowerment (emphasizing increased control over one's own life, self-confidence, and one's abilities, and social integration among recipients of aid activities) for employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with marginalized people and socially excluded and academic teachers educating future educators and social workers,
• developing competencies/skills in DPA (Developing the Power to Act) - an approach using the concept of Empowerment in people participating in training (both NGO employees and academic teachers).
One of the tasks carried out under the project was to conduct research that will be presented at the conference. The research methodology was based on the concept of action research, in which diagnostic tools for measuring professional and social skills were prepared, and research was carried out (pre- and post-test). The first stage included the diagnosis of professional and social skills when starting the participation in the project. Twelve people (NGO employees and academic teachers) were selected from partner institutions. The second stage involved the diagnosis of additional professional and social skills resulting from the nature of the training based on the Empowerment concept acquired during a series of 4 workshops. In addition, interviews were conducted with the participants. Data was collected on their experiences gained during the training and utilization of the acquired knowledge and skills in professional practice between training sessions. The primary purpose of the interviews was to determine the effectiveness of the working methods learned by the participants and the possibility of using them in various cultural contexts.
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