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Lead Organisation:

Cooperativa Sociale “COOSSEL”
Via Reggio Campi II Tronco
89100 Reggio Calabria – ITALIA
Tel: ++39 0965 331841
Fax: ++39 0965 331841
Sito Web:

Contact Person:

Saverio Sergi, Project co-ordinator

Type of Organisation

Social Firm

Main Activities

The main activity of COOSSEL co-operative, the first promoter of the DP “Focus”, is
the management of interventions for the social integration of people with psychiatric
and other disabilities. Within this area, the co-operative operates on various sides: a)
psychiatric and psycho-social rehabilitation; b) daily home assistance; c) psycho-
social support for families with multiple social needs; d) scientific investigation into
such issues; e) creation of routes for the social integration of young people with
mental problems in their starting phase; f) training courses and vocational guidance.
The co-operative mission is that of planning, running and implementing routes for the
social integration of people expelled from the systems of active society and
conducting a marginalised life, not only from an economical point of view. The
operating field is that of psychological and/or psychiatric problems. The aim of the
interventions is that of supporting these people along the hard path towards the
claiming back of their identity and social role lost because of their disease. In order to
attain these goals, the co-operative makes use of scientific methodologies and
approaches capable of rising the target group‟s levels of competence, in order to
make easier the achievement of socially competent behaviours.
In the last years the activity has also taken a definite scientific and experimental
character. In fact Italy is one of the few countries in which the approach of professor
Mark Spivak of Harvard and Jerusalem University has been used in a scientifically
planned way. This is a methodology meant for the creation of individualised
rehabilitation routes addressed to people with previous long stays in mental hospitals,
thus particularly disadvantaged from the point of view of relational competences and
abilities concerning personal and social autonomy. It is an eclectic approach
integrating and using methodological hints coming from other psychological and
psychiatric approaches, such as the systemic-relational one, the psycho-dynamic one,
the behaviourist one and the one known as “person-centred approach”. The scientific
direction of this project has been taken up for over four years by Professor Spivak
himself, who, directly and at regular intervals, engaged to train and keep up to date
the workers involved in the rehabilitation projects in Reggio Calabria. He also
measured and supervised the work done, personally verifying the achievement of the
objectives. Several reports and scientific publications came out within this activity.

Calabria background

Calabria has a very weak productive base whose characteristics are the strong
specialisation in traditional fields on the one hand, and the firms‟ dimensional
pulverisation on the other hand. According to data of the ISTAT intermediate census
of industry and services, at the end of 1996 in the province of Reggio Calabria there
were 24,937 firms, with an employment of 47,517 workers. In the field of trade and
repairing operates the 48,26% of the firms in Reggio, followed by property
companies, renting, informatics and research (15,54%), manufacture (11,75%),
building (7,2%), hotels and restaurants (5,54%) and finally other public, social and
personal services (5,47). Thus the sectional specialization concerns the fields of trade,
building, the other public services and hotels and restaurants. Yet, these sectors
coincide with the less dynamic productive activities, mainly addressed to the local
markets. In terms of employment, the sector using the greatest number of workers is
trade (19,636), followed by manufacture, employing 7,856 workers. Small firms with
less than ten workers represent a very big part, more than the 90% of the local firms.
According to the already analysed results of the intermediate census of 1996,
Calabria shows some kind of sectional specialization only in the less dynamic sectors,
little exposed to external competition and almost exclusively addressed to the local
markets. Therefore it is a success limited to single firms, whose main explanation lies
just in the fact that no interconnection among the firms exists. The possibilities of
work integration for disabled people within the productive web of the province of
Reggio Calabria seem to be very scarce, since in the whole province out of a total of
24,937 firms, those with more than 15 workers are only 204 in the private sector, that
is the 0,8% of the total. What is more, there is a difficulty in quantifying the real
number of people who can be introduced to employment according to the set of rules
of the law 68/99, due to problems related to the structure of the census. According to
plausible criteria applied both to the successive classes of workers of the firms and to
the local units of the institutions, the part of reserves, according to the new provisions
of the law 68/99, is about 3,000 units. In the province of Reggio Calabria, the number
of disabled workers employed according to the previous law 482/68 is about 1,500
units (of which 418 in private firms and 1,090 in public companies), where the
biggest part is represented by disabled people). According to some research, the
percentage of failure in the introduction to work based on the law 482/68 is very high
(about the 75%) and includes cases of desertion of work on the part of the disabled
(who do not start the job in exchange of a ”donation” by the firm), cases of
resignation before the end of the period of probation (because of the lack of a suitable
task), cases of dismissal of the worker during the period of probation and finally
cases of non-starting of the job. Alongside about 1,500 people already employed in
September 2000, almost 10,000 disabled people are willing to work and could be
addressees of the new law, whereas, on the same date, only 45 disabled people are
employed among those starting their jobs between 01/07/99 and 15/09/00. In short,
the weak economic structure of the province of Reggio Calabria and the specific
conditions of the labour market - which have been clearly outlined in the introduction
to the specific territorial context - lead to believe that the possibilities of making
successful the system reforming the introduction to work of the disabled, are strongly
conditioned by the adoption of intervention techniques which may have a concrete
impact on the system of employment services, becoming a widespread practice in the
matching of supply and demand. The intervention on this specific segment of the
process of introduction to work of the disabled allows the contemporary achievement
of some objectives: a) it improves the quality of the intervention of vocational
guidance and training integration of the disabled; b) it introduces them into an
institutional process complying with their right to work.


FOCUS DP proposes a system of actions under the EMPLOYABILITY thematic
field, whose aim is to promote the conditions to give better chances to the identified
target in the labour market.
The strategy of the project is aimed not only to create new employment, but to have
a real impact on the local labour market, significantly reducing all patterns of
discrimination usually preventing disabled people to have access to employment.
In summary, our proposal is to promote a „Local Pact for the employment of disabled
people”, through the involvement of a number of key actors of the economic and
social system at the provincial level. In other terms, we would like to consolidate the
network of subjects operating within the geographical area of the province of Reggio
Calabria and to make them inter-act with the aim of making the labour market more
permeable to disabled people.
The project will be carried on by a multi-agency development partnership, involving
different subjects, all able to have an active role for the achievement of the outcomes,
thanks to the added value coming from their interaction.

Target group

FOCUS will work with the following disadvantage group
     Young people with problem of mental health;
     People with learning disabilities
It is a kind of target living on the fringes of social and productive life, since the
policies and the interventions for the rehabilitation from the condition of social
isolation in which these people live are only episodic. The only route they are let go
along as “protagonists”, if we may use this expression, is that of remaining
indefinitely guests of mental hospitals or supported by social services.


 To build and experiment a local network of subjects interacting to promote
  employment opportunities for disabled people;
 To promote the formal endorsing of a “Local Pact for the Employment of
  Disabled People”, describing the roles, contents, objectives and strategies to
 To favour the matching between offer of labour coming from disabled people and
  demand of labour from the local business system. In this context, a key action will
  be to break the stereotype by which employing disabled people means a loss of
  productivity and not a resource to valorise.
 To create, within the Job Centres, operational sectors specialised in giving advise
  and support to local commercial and social firms potentially willing to employ
  disabled people;
 To experiment training actions directly linked to professional and competencies
  needs of firms;
 To create new orienteering and empowerment methodologies, able to enrich
  competencies of disabled people;
 To guarantee in all stages of the projects, equal opportunities for mental disabled
 To create a network of psychiatric and social aid to the final beneficiaries, though
  the involvement of the local health authority and te social services;
 To carry on research actions to investigate on the needs and the quality of life of
  disabled people and on the training and professional needs of local firms;
 To build a system of information and dissemination of the methodology
  experimented during the implementation of the project;
 To start a training action for trainers in order to enhance their competencies;
 To promote a system of certification of competencies for the final beneficiaries;
 To promote further agreements with the local business system in order to give
  disabled people the opportunity to have work-experiences or in-site training;
 To establish a model of mainstreaming;
 To create a web site for the job-matching, specialised with disabled people
  seeking employment;

Project Partner

The DP “Focus” is an aggregate of local parties of high value added within the
province. The operative synergies which will be built and the level of integration and
co-operation which will be developed, will be the elements guaranteeing the success
of the whole enterprise. In fact, we are convinced that the province of Reggio
Calabria possesses potentialities that must be enhanced in order to promote routes of
development and socio-economical integration for the disabled. Therefore, the
operative phase of the project will represent a testing ground for innovative models
allowing the local community - through the direct involvement of the key parties in
the development and representation - to guide, monitor and evaluate the single
interventions and the project as a whole. The “social control” is necessary above all
for a continuous testing of the correspondence between project and technique of
realisation. The problem leads directly to the process of decision-making which
cannot be limited to the phase of planning of the interventions, but must follow the
various stages of its route. For this reason, utmost care will be given to the whole
process of building of a methodology guaranteeing all the partners‟ active
participation and the necessary social control. The two parties promoting the DP
“Focus” will play a leading role in the process of involvement of the whole group of
partners. Four steering groups will thus be activated. Within them all the
organisations, institutions, associations and firms of the DP will operate. The idea is
that of guaranteeing every partner a role in all the phases of implementation of the
enterprise. Therefore the project will be run by the following coordinating groups: 1)
technical-scientific coordination: it is the structure guiding the whole project, made
up of the representatives of the two promoting parties and those appointed by the
three “ASL” of the province of Reggio Calabria, the trade union “CISL”, the
province councillor for equal opportunities and the associations for the protection of
rights. This technical group will be the interface with all the other partners of the DP
carrying out project activities; 2) executive coordination: it will have a crucial role in
managing the financial and secretarial processes. It will be the concrete reference for
the relations between local and transnational partners; 3) coordination for the
constitution of the “local agreement for the employment of the disabled”. In this case
a leading role will be played by the institutional partners, namely the A.P. of Reggio
Calabria - also by virtue of its competences in the field of compulsory employment –
and the representatives of the town councils of Palmi, Villa San Giovanni, Rosarno,
Siderno, Melito Porto Salvo and Cittanova.
Other types of partner will be involved in the DP.

Planned Activities

The DP “FOCUS” has been developed through many meeting with the strategic
partner in the province of Reggio Calabria. The DP involved the following types of
                 Type of partners                         Key roles
Institutional Partners              Public administrations of the province of Reggio
                                    Calabria. They contribute in highlighting the
                                    needs of the territory as regards the occupation
                                    for the disadvantaged groups, and they are
                                    interpreters in first appeal to develop positive
                                    actions to support the social economy. If
                                    necessary, they can financially participate in the
                                    development of the project. In the presentation of
                                    the DP they will be represented by a partner
                                    institutional leader.
Consultant Partners                 Entrepreneurial organisations and the social
                                    partners. To them we will ask every support to
                                    favour the birth or the strengthening of new
                                    economic activities that can be managed by the
                                    enterprises of the social economy. Particularly
                                    they will favour this trial creating correct
                                    synergies with initiatives of their competence.
                                    Besides, they will also guarantee a transfer of
                                    specific know-how in such matters as rights and
                                    duties of the work force who will presumably be
                                    occupied thanks to the project. In the
                                    presentation of the DP they will be represented
                                    by a partner of consultation leader.
Project Partners                    Non profit organisms that have shown
                                    competence and experience in planning and
                                    management of complex community projects.
                                    They will contribute with a variety of
                                    competencies: techniques, managerial, financial,
                                    formative, consultative, etc. It is up to them to
                                    fill-in the proposal (on the escort of the
                                    indications collegially emerged with the other
                                    partners) and his operational run, guaranteeing a
                                    suitable assistance in the following phases of
                                    development of the program. In the presentation
                                    of the candidacy they will be represented by a
                                    partner or project leader.
Beneficiaries Partners              They are the recipients of the activities, services
                                    and supports that the project produces for
                                    favouring the growth of social enterprises.
                                    Among them we have the associations, the social
                                    Cooperatives type B, the non social Cooperatives
                                    and the Enterprises profit ethically directed.
                                    Many among these are already gathered in an
                                    institutionally recognised organism called
                                    “Consult of the Voluntary sector”. In the
                                    presentation of the candidacy they will be
                                    represented by a partner beneficiary leader.
All the partners will be involved in the following actions:

   management of DP through a Steering Group;
   process of mainstreaming;
   monitoring and evaluation;
   trans-national activities.

To ensure a formal description of roles and responsibilities, the DP “FOCUS” have
chosen as a formal agreement, the Partnership Agreement. The active role of each
partner will be promoted through the following actions:

       Steering Group which will meet twice monthly;
       Executive Committee ;
       Website of DP “FOCUS” with bulletin board for partners only;
       Involvement of partners in each decisional process;


 Action 1: the preparation of the DP began in November and it will end on March
 Action 2: the implementation of DP “FOCUS” will begin in May 2002 and will be
  concluded in September 2004.

Trans-national Activities

New laws has been approved in Italy in the last four years, with the aim of facilitating
the transition to work for disadvantaged groups. As an effect of this, new ideas and
innovative approaches has been experimented to promote the occupation of the target
groups. It is therefore important to compare the effectiveness of these approaches and
methodologies with other European partners and, at the same time to have the
opportunity of combining different methodologies with inputs of partners that have
reached levels of excellence in this sector.

Therefore, trans-national activities of FOCUS will be:

       Exchange of experiences and innovative approaches;
       Exchange of staff and users;
       Development of common activities;
       Development of a trans-national mainstreaming plan.
Type of Partners Required

Partners with a consolidated experience in the field of social and occupational
integration of disabled people.

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