Seven lives On the road to success with the European Social Fund. Social Europe

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1 Seven lives On the road to success with the European Social Fund Social Europe

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3 Seven lives On the road to success with the European Social Fund Find out about the paths taken by seven beneficiaries of the European Social Fund European Commission Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Manuscript completed in June 2013

4 Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission may be held responsible for the use that may be made of the information contained in this publication. Cover image: Maud Millecamps - European Union Photos: Rudi Miel European Union France: p. 5: bottom photo, p. 6: bottom photo, p. 7: top photo, p. 15: top photo; United Kingdom: p. 19: bottom photo, p. 25: top photo; Germany; Poland: p. 42: bottom photo; Lithuania: p. 54: top photo and background photo, p. 55: top photo, p. 61: background photo, p. 62: top photo; Spain: p. 66: bottom photo. France: Brieuc Hubin European Union Spain: Leopoldo Alberto Prieto de Paula European Union Poland: Agnieszka Kolodynska European Union United Kingdom: Simon Burt European Union Lithuania: Šviesos raštas European Union Lithuania: Šviesos raštas European Union Europe Direct is a service to help you find answers to your questions about the European Union. Freephone number (*): (*) The information given is free, as are most calls (though some operators, phone boxes or hotels may charge you). More information on the European Union is available on the Internet (http://europa.eu). Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013 ISBN doi: /53254 European Union, 2013 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Printed in Luxembourg Printed on elemental chlorine-free bleached paper (ECF)

5 The European Social Fund, a profoundly human story Brigitte, James, Nauras, Ebrahim, Anna, Jolanta and Carlos seven Europeans who are representative of the European Social Fund today, seven very different paths with one thing in common. At some point in their lives they have all benefitted from the support of the European Social Fund (ESF) in achieving their professional objectives. By reading their stories and watching their testimonies on the ESF website you will see that the nature, scope and aims of the projects supported by the ESF are extremely varied and that these projects target people from all walks of life: young or elderly job-seekers, students, aspiring entrepreneurs... More than ten million people benefit from this support each year... Why not you? To find out more, visit the ESF site: The ESF invests in people. It is people who are undoubtedly Europe s richest attribute. Seven lives On the road to success with the European Social Fund 3

6 Hellemmes Project: Support for the Lille Plan for Integration and Employment (PLIE) Beneficiaries: CCAS Hellemmes Project duration: 2011 Total budget: ESF contribution: Participants: 145 Country: France Organisation: Lille Plan for Integration and Employment (PLIE):

7 Brigitte, healthcare assistant in a nursing home Destination Hellemmes Destination Hellemmes France 5

8 A woman of action Open door My husband and I live in Hellemmes, in an old house built for workers in the North of France, right beside Lille. The house still has its original front door. It s the only one on the street that does. All of our neighbours have replaced their doors. This is certainly not the only thing about us that our neighbours feel is unique. My husband is a former wrestler and lorry driver who survived being run over by a bulldozer and who now works with ponies. It s certainly not a dull back story. And if we add to that the fact that I went back to school at the age of sixty, you can see why we are real characters in the neighbourhood. 6

9 Crossword puzzles I love going for walks in François-Mitterrand park, near where I live, to recharge my batteries. My husband can t go for long walks so I go alone. I also like going to the swimming pool and going window shopping in Lille. When I m at home I look after my husband: everyday life is a struggle for him. He has to constantly take painkillers. To unwind I like to do crossword puzzles or watch television programmes. I also love cooking hearty meals like endives au gratin, chips and roasts. Unfortunately I don t travel much anymore. But I have great memories of the Normandy countryside, like the scent of apple and pear orchards. All aboard! After Francis accident, we started breeding ponies. My granddaughter was very keen on this: she loves animals. It s a lot of hassle sometimes but we all made the decision together. It means my husband has to leave the house and look after the animals: it s been a real lifeline for him. On the weekend we take the children out for rides with the ponies, using wagons. It s a nice way to enjoy ourselves nearby. We only ask that the parents make a small contribution towards feeding the ponies. Destination Hellemmes France 7

10 I'm 63. I'm a healthcare assistant. I live near Lille, in France. I've had lots of things knock me off my path in life. But I am living my life to the fullest. I've always had lots of ideas in my head. A bit of luck is all it takes sometimes to encourage you to take the plunge. Life isn't long enough to learn everything. I have a great deal to give and I want to do as much as I can, while I still can.

11 Only two of my brothers are still alive. I'm the youngest. There were six of us. The world then was very different than it is now. No matter what the weather was like, we would play in the local rubbish dump every day. What have you lot been up to? You're all filthy dirty. Brigitte, bring me the scrubbing brush.

12 My mother was a real character. She often said: 'I just jump into things then see what happens'. She was always on the go. She had an infectious energy and wore her heart on her sleeve. We all wanted to be like her. Here. They're waffles, for your children, I just made them. When I was eighteen I started studying mental health at nursing school. Two years later I dropped out. I was too young. I had my children. My husband was a lorry driver. I started my own transport company. On the road, you're alone. It's not the life I dreamed of.

13 My transport company lasted for thirteen years and then it didn t work out. I was summoned to the commercial court. I am really sorry. I really tried to I bounced back. A few of us set up a small company again. You've done nothing wrong. But in 1997, my husband had a serious accident. He was run over by a bulldozer. You'll be ok, hang in there! I helped my husband as best I could. This experience made me want to get back into the medical and social field. I stopped working in transport to become a personal carer.

14 I bought a pony: Charlotte. One brown eye, one blue one. It was a way to help my husband, to give him something to put his energy into. Animals need people. When I was 60, a challenge was thrown my way. That was when things just clicked. You're not qualified, don't touch anything! I went back to study to become a healthcare assistant. The Social Action Centre helped me, as I didn't have an income. At 60 you're not entitled to unemployment benefit. It's retirement age. I passed and was quickly hired by Les Orchidées. I'm happy there, I feel I've blossomed. We have the right, no matter our age, to study. I decided to move forward in my life.

15 The gift of yourself Broke When I went back to study I stopped working. So I didn t have any income. I found an organisation to pay for my studies. But that wasn t enough. I then went to the Social Action Centre where I met Valérie and Aziz. They helped me. The involvement of the European Social Fund meant that I could complete my studies. When you doubt yourself you have to stay strong and keep your wits about you. There s always support there to get you through. You just need to find the right support. No-one is ever really stuck. You have to get to know yourself and recognise that we all need each other. Destination Hellemmes France 13

16 Straight to the heart When Les Orchidées called me, I didn t hesitate at all. I liked it from the very start. When I started, people were surprised at my age. But they accepted me very quickly. I m now part of the furniture. I m in my element. The residents have really taken to me, to my personality. I have a fun, easy relationship with them. I am a spontaneous and warm person. The residents often tell me that I add an atmosphere where there wasn t any before. I try to give them moral support. And their kindness always goes straight to my heart. No thank you I love giving to others. I always say that it s easier to give than to receive. When you receive something you have to say thank you. And I m not sure how to go about saying thank you because I tend to have feelings that are disproportionate to the action of the other person. So, for me, giving is more natural. I give my good mood, my energy and my love. I give to people who need this. Whether it s here or elsewhere. I am very tactile and like to get involved with people. I sing for them and play around with them. I make them laugh and that makes everyone s day better. 14

17 Life experience I get on well with many of the residents, because they are simple people. I can have serious conversations with them even though we often end up laughing. The more reserved among them also let me help them from time to time, as they can relate to me because of my age. These affinities have to do with my experience of life. I ve had a very diverse life and know a little bit about everything. Young people don t always understand older people. I m more able, than someone who has just finished school, to accept certain things. My people skills are better. Full steam ahead I love my work. I will keep doing it for as long as I have something to give. I m not going to stop now that things are going so well. Although I may have to set certain limits. I still have lots of plans. I would like to learn sign language. I already talk a lot with my hands... it s a start! I would also like to look after children... I d like to finish my secondary education too. I ve been thinking about that for the last ten years. And I would like to learn English and German. I ve bought books to help me get started. Destination Hellemmes France 15

18 Newquay Project: XtraVert run by Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) Beneficiaries: Young unemployed people Project duration: June August 2009 Total budget: ESF contribution: Participants: 11 Country: United Kingdom Organisation: Real Ideas Organisation (RIO)

19 James, skateboard ramp designer Destination Newquay Destination Newquay United Kingdom 17

20 Extreme passions Seaside Newquay is the town I grew up in. I live there with my girlfriend. My father has his home there... And all my friends and family are there. It s the town of extreme sports... All year long the centre of Newquay is a mecca for surfing and skateboarding enthusiasts. Even the shop windows are designed with these sports in mind. I love any outdoor sports. But I don t really like the cold... So I only surf in the summer. But my friends are braver than me: they surf all year round. 18

21 Friends for life Friends are everything for me. We hang out together in the pub and on the beach, listening to music and surfing. There are often festivals in the summer. I also like going fishing with my friends. But what really binds us together is our passion for skateboarding. We re a real skateboarding community. Skateboarding has no age limit: everyone skates together in the same parks. Through skateboarding I ve met lots of people and made some great friends. On the wave Surfing gave me a taste for travel. I ve surfed in exotic paradises like Thailand and Indonesia... It s a sport that doesn t have language or cultural barriers. I think that it s the feeling of freedom you get from surfing that unites surfers all over the world: when we re out on our boards, all our tension just melts away. It s really a way of expressing ourselves. Relationships between surfers are simple and natural, whether you re an amateur or a champion. Destination Newquay United Kingdom 19

22 I m 23. I m a joiner and I love extreme sports like skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. I live and work in Newquay, in the United Kingdom. It s a town of surfers, in both summer and winter. I m lucky enough to have a job linked directly to my hobby: I design and build skate parks and ramps. My whole life is about skateboarding!

23 My Dad was passionate about surfing and passed that on to me. I have nothing much more to teach you James! You already know what you re doing! I was very young when I got my first skateboard. I learnt how to use it myself, in the parks. There s no school for that. There is a sense of urgency to skateboarding. We are always stuck to our boards, we live and sleep with them.

24 But it s a pleasure that comes with a price. I ve lost count of how many bones I ve broken. Once, I woke up in the hospital, the day after I had a fall. It s serious this time James. The doctors warned me. You re going to have to take it easy... Skateboarding is like a virus. You can t get rid of it easily. Two years after being forced to stop, I got back on my board. It s a dangerous sport but you get a real adrenaline rush from it! I know But you know I ll never give it up... Skateboarding helped me continue my studies. I find it hard to concentrate because I m dyslexic. Skateboarding after classes invigorated me. I studied tourism, because I wanted to see the world. I ve always travelled a lot, with my family and friends. But I didn t stick with the course. There was too much theory.

25 Next I learned to cook because I wanted to work as a chef at a snowboard resort. I worked in a big hotel in Newquay. Make us something good, ok?! Yeah, ok, off you go and enjoy yourselves you slackers!! I loved cooking. But the hours didn t suit me: I was stuck in the kitchen all day while my friends were surfing and skateboarding. I then worked in bars and shops for a while. I felt a bit lost... without any real qualifications. At this time my Dad suggested I could give him a hand. He had decided to build a wooden house, all by himself. It was a new experience for me... and a chance to learn about joinery. Have you heard about the XtraVert courses? Yes, Aunty it seems like a good idea. Skateboarding and joinery everything I like together!

26 That s how I joined the XtraVert team. They taught me all the basics of joinery in just four months. I learnt how to build skate parks and ramps. At the end of the course, they wanted to hire me. Today I m doing what I love. With my friends. It s all go for me!

27 On track! Destination Newquay United Kingdom 25

28 The wood industry I wasn t all that interested in joinery at the start. I thought it was a boring job. But I ve really taken to it. Joinery is not just carving and assembling pieces of wood. First and foremost, it s got a lot to do with design and creativity. It s also crucial to choose the right kinds of wood, depending on their final use. For skateboard ramps, for example, we use a specific type of multilayer wood which is both flexible and very strong. Passing the torch The young people I teach remind me of myself. I see myself in their questions and their mistakes... At the beginning they never have much self-confidence. But then they make progress quickly. Some even choose to go on to university. We teach them the basics of joinery. They begin by making a chair all by themselves which they can then take home with them. The fact that I m just a few years older than them is a big advantage. I can say to them look, I was in your shoes just three years ago and I did it: now I work full-time. 26

29 Launch pad Matt, Jack and I are really passionate about skateboarding. But finding a job linked to skateboarding seemed like an unattainable utopia to us. After the XtraVert course, the project founders realised that the skateboarding ramps we made were popular and that there was a chance to turn it into a business. That was three and a half years ago. They hired us. We successfully rose to the challenge. Nowadays we sell our ramps all across the United Kingdom, to both individuals and communities. Tried and tested Building something new is always very exciting. When we come to the end of a project we can t wait to get back on our skateboards and test it out for ourselves. The experience is always different: it s always a new feeling. The best part of my job would have to be this final test: it s at this point that everyone in the team gets to jump on their boards and just let loose. New life Without the European Social Fund I have no doubt that I would not be where I am today... I would probably never have even studied joinery. Everyone, including my colleagues Matt and Jack, who took part in the first courses has been able to make something of their lives. The XtraVert programme changed several people s lives. Lots of young people and adults want to do something with their life but never get the opportunity to. Destination Newquay United Kingdom 27

30 Koblenz Project: MYK4international Beneficiaries: Young Germans working in the hotel and restaurant industry in France. Project duration: May 2009 December 2013 Total budget: ESF contribution: Participants: 125 planned. 86 to date. Country: Germany Organisation: IKAB

31 Nauras & Ebrahim, apprentice chefs Destination Koblenz Destination Koblenz Germany 29

32 One big family Straight to the point I live in an apartment three kilometres from Koblenz. I have had German nationality for two years but I still don t feel completely German. When people ask where I am from, I always instinctively want to say Iraq. But this is more of an emotional issue because I do really like living in Germany. I speak German and my friends speak German. I appreciate all that my host country has done for me. I m the first to support the German national team in football matches. 30

33 Going with the flow When the sun shines I love going to sit beside the Rhine or Mosel rivers during my breaks and, together with my friend and colleague Ebrahim, having a glass of wine and something to eat. My work requires a great deal of energy. I do, however, always find the time to cook for myself in the evenings. I cook simple dishes, but my standards are high in terms of the preparation or the ingredients I use. I enjoy trying out new combinations when it comes to sauces and soups. Fresh water fishing Today I feel completely German and fully integrated into society. It was a long road: twelve years! I don t have much time for my hobbies because of my work, but I love fishing on the edge of a lake or along the Rhine. And I sometimes play guitar. After work I often go out with colleagues in the evening to have a drink and unwind. We re like one big family. Destination Koblenz Germany 31

34 My name is Nauras. I'm 26. I left Baghdad with my parents, my two brothers and my sister when I was seven. I am training to be a chef in Koblenz. I specialise in desserts. Cookery is my passport to the world. I would like to complete my training in Switzerland and would also like to go to Asia and see how things are done there. I would like to have my own restaurant some day, in Spain. The vegetables taste different there. My name is Ebrahim. I left Iran when I was seventeen, during my military service. My mother helped me escape. I now live in Koblenz. I work with Nauras: we are both in training at the moment. Gastronomy is more than just an interest for me. It's my life. When I look back at what I've achieved, I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish so far.

35 My memories of my home country are linked to the war. The Baghdad neighbourhood we lived in was bombed. We lived in Jordan for five years. We were political refugees. I stayed there until I was thirteen. My parents always loved to cook. I rarely cook for them because they are better than me! I've learnt a lot by watching my father. He cooks very healthy dishes. It's because of him that I wanted to learn to cook professionally. You can cut the peppers, Nauras. When I first came to Germany, life was not easy. I had imagined a grey and boring country. I missed the sun and I had to learn the language and to write from left to right. At school the other children would make fun of me, because I spoke German badly. But I was good at art and geography. And that made the other children jealous. Your drawing is no good!

36 When I was fifteen I worked as a barmaid: I needed money. Two beers, here you go!! The opportunity to train and become a chef came from the job centre. I was sceptical. It seemed too good to be true. So... I did a traineeship in Bordeaux for a few weeks. I loved it. Beat the eggs into peaks Nauras. I've had a German passport for two years now... The kitchen team is like a family. Everyone has adopted me, even though it is a male-dominated environment. Everyone agrees on how good my chocolate cake is. But the recipe is a secret!

37 I didn't want to die in the war. I crossed Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia on foot... My journey lasted twenty-one days. I met up with my brother in Italy and he drove me to Germany. We hadn't seen each other for five years. So I didn't recognise him straight away. When I got in his car I fell asleep straight away. I hadn't closed my eyes for several days. My early days in Germany were tough. I had to start from scratch. I had absolutely nothing. I had to wait several years for my work permit. And I wasn't allowed to study either. My interview with the job centre was a shock, but a positive one. The moment everything clicked was when I did a traineeship in France, in Bordeaux. No, I'm sorry. I don't have any work for you.

38 All of a sudden I knew I had found my way. I was certain. I was proud. I was going to be able to be a role model for my son, who was born in Germany. My life is here now, even though my heart is still in Iran. I had a very happy childhood. I have good memories of my home country. My father still lives there. I ll do the onions for you. Thanks Nauras. I went to Iran a few years ago. The government had given up on looking for me. I will go back, definitely... And maybe open a hotel there, why not... You've done well for yourself, son. But at the minute I'm focusing on my training. I want to travel and to learn new things in Asia (China or Japan). I love the way they sculpt fruit and vegetables and how they cook shellfish, crustaceans and fish. I still have a lot to learn.

39 Flavours and colours Destination Koblenz Germany 37

40 Chef s suggestions My working day starts at eight o clock in the kitchen when I have a meeting with the team. We talk about the plan and recipes for the day... And allocate tasks. There are normally three of us: one is in charge of the starters, one the main courses and side dishes and the third person does the desserts. I prefer doing the main courses or the desserts. Designing dishes Every time I prepare an ingredient I think about its flavour and the way I could use it in a recipe. I love to discreetly observe the customers reaction when they taste my dishes, especially when I ve made something new or unusual. I am also careful to present the dishes well in general. I am a real perfectionist. I try to motivate my colleagues to get them to do the same. Grand cru The job centre and the European Social Fund enabled me to train. It almost seemed too good to be true. I was sceptical. The traineeship in France, in Bordeaux, taught me a great deal. I learnt about certain ways of working and trying different approaches to cooking. I always loved baking and making desserts. But the project enabled me to learn that there are lots of other things that interest me in the kitchen. 38

41 Experimental cooking The thing I like the most about the training I received is the confidence people have in me: they believed in my abilities. And the most satisfying thing, when I experiment with new things in the kitchen, new combinations of flavours, is when customers enjoy my dish creations. I love making special dishes from scratch and impressing the customers. Full of life The MYK4international project changed my life. I find it to be extraordinary that Europe supports its young people with a training opportunity like this. I really feel full of life today, I love my job. I feel like I am useful. My existence has evolved in a positive way. When I m in the kitchen I feel at home. Destination Koblenz Germany 39

42 Lublin Project: Initiative is a woman IV Beneficiaries: Women who want to set up and manage a small business Project duration: January 2011 August 2012 Total budget: zł ESF contribution: zł Participants: 72 Country: Poland Organisation: Fundacja Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej

43 Anna, crèche owner Destination Lublin Destination Lublin Poland 41

44 Secret garden A breath of fresh air I am 25. I live with my parents in a village just outside Lublin. In the past I tried living with my brother and his student friends in the city but I soon realised I was too old for that. Student life and late-night parties don t really go well with the demands of a career. But the countryside also gets to me quite quickly. So I do the opposite of what most people do: I spend my weekends in the city. 42

45 Complete opposites I have a split personality. On the one hand I am very organised, structured and responsible: I like to be able to control everything. So I need to compensate for this serious side of my personality with some other activities. This explains my interest in extreme sports: I need adrenaline to be balanced. I dream of experiencing kitesurfing and parachuting. I also run most days. I really like jogging. Passionate about travel I have lots of friends in Warsaw. I like to disappear from time to time to see them. We go to outdoor concerts and festivals and listen to rock music. As I am my own boss I organise my time as I like. I also travel abroad. I ve been to Italy five times, three of them to Rome. I love Italy. One of my teachers started my love affair with the country. I learnt Italian and speak it fluently. Destination Lublin Poland 43

46 I'm 25. I run a crèche I set up in the suburbs of Lublin. My background is in law so I didn't intend to end up in this line of work. But, while working as an assistant in a daycare centre for children, during my studies, I realised that I was born to do this job: I really love it. I feel fulfilled and free, and love being around children every day.

47 I don't really have specific memories of my childhood... But according to my parents I was a very noisy, sensitive little girl who always liked to be the centre of attention Thankfully, again according to my parents, I settled down in the end In my family, my parents and grandparents were teachers... Looking after children must be in our genes... I'll make you a snack... Go and start your homework. For this reason I didn't really think I would go down the same road as they did, or even look after children in general. I didn't have any experience in this field. I had just done a bit of babysitting when I was a teenager: I'd looked after my cousins. I'll tell you a story... But afterwards, it's lights off, ok!?

48 My parents were very happy about that choice of course! They encouraged me to follow that path. Have you thought about what you're going to do when you're older, Anna? It's time to give it some thought... Yes, I'll be a lawyer! But then I rebelled. As my parents were delighted for me to study law, I did a 180 and told them I was going to study Islamic Arts. My mother was smart in how she reacted. She knew how stubborn I was so she let me make my own choice... So in the end I signed up for law school.

49 I was very diligent in my studies My future as a lawyer was all planned out. And then, something happened: I got the job as an assistant in a kindergarten I liked it so much that I decided to organise my study schedule around my working hours. But the last year it became very difficult to manage. I had to quit the job so I could concentrate on my studies. It was really heartbreaking.

50 I finished my law degree. I didn't want to waste all of that knowledge. And after investigating things a bit, I started to look for premises outside Lublin because there were already enough private crèches in the city. I did all of this secretly. I didn't want to tell my parents about my decision until everything was ready. My budget wouldn't allow me to renovate the property and buy all the equipment I would need. So I got in touch with an association co-funded by the ESF, which helped me financially and trained me in fields I didn't know a lot about. I invested a lot of time in this project... But it's brought me such happiness, I don't regret it at all. When I compare my lifestyle to that of my former classmates, I realise that my life is both less stressful and more rewarding. Children give you positive energy all day long! The courses also cover marketing, advertising and the financial management of your project.

51 A child s soul Destination Lublin Poland 49

52 Precious moments My favourite part of the day is when I get to have a break and spend time with the children in their room. This is what I really enjoy each day. I sit down and play with them. And all of a sudden my worries seem so insignificant and my problems fade away. When I watch the children and am sharing in their world, I always smile. That s the magic of childhood. The right way The majority of my work is linked to my responsibilities as the manager: administration, insurance, contracts... I am in close contact with the parents, of course, but also with my employees. In this way they can tell me what they need and what the kindergarten needs. We re a bit too full at the minute. I opened the crèche a little over two years ago and would love to expand the space, because I have children on the waiting list. A responsible woman It s enormously satisfying for me to have been able to create a space that meets a real need in the region. I did, however, feel under a lot of stress when I, for the first time in my life, paid my employees salaries. I realised, all of a sudden, that the financial security of the three people I work with depends on me. It s a heavy burden. But, at the same time, it motivates me to always keep on improving. 50

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