As part of the project “New partnerships and opportunities for innovative and sustainable approaches to social integration and labor market integration of vulnerable groups – NOVA”, a Peer review event was held on the topic of the development of integrated social services in order to improve the position of beneficiaries of financial social assistance, which was held on the 9th and 10th June 2022 in Vrnjačka Banja.
The project is implemented within the EU program for employment and social policy EaSI, and its focus is on the creation of innovative support measures aimed at reducing social barriers and access to the labor market of the most vulnerable groups in Serbia, through integrative approaches and new partnerships of various actors. The project is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, as the coordinator, the National Employment Service, the Center for Social Policy, the Red Cross of Serbia, IPSOS and the Institute for Social Protection of Slovenia as partners.
Participants at the event, in addition to partner institutions, were representatives of the Republic Institute for Social Protection, centers for social work, local self-governments, educational institutions, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations.
The first day of the event was dedicated to reviewing the current situation in Serbia, regarding the work concepts of competent institutions and existing services, as well as their mutual cooperation with reference to the concept of integrated services with examples of good practices in Serbia and the EU.
In the introductory address, the attendees were addressed by: a representative of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs (MoLEVSA) and a representative of the National Employment Service (NES), while the other presenters were representatives of the Republic Institute for Social Protection, the Center for Social Policy, then centers for social work and branches of the National Employment Service, as well as representatives of the City Administration of the City of Vršac, i.e. NGO Impuls.
During the second day, a workshop was held on the topic of improving integrated services and access to the activation of cash social assistance beneficiaries. After working in groups, there was a presentation by the representative of each group. The main conclusion of the event is that it is one of the most sensitive groups on the labour market (in addition to people with disabilities) and that as such it requires a multi-sector, multi-disciplinary, holistic approach that implies mutual cooperation of all relevant local institutions. The need to strengthen the capacities of not only existing institutions, but also civil society organizations, and especially employment agencies in terms of specialization in working with the mentioned group of users, was also recognised.