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Swiss PRO
  • Government of the Republic of Serbia
  • The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM)

News / Success Stories

Improving Social Inclusion through Training for Persons with Disabilities

  • Smederevo, 3 December 2020

“Without Tools There is no Craft” is the name of the project within which persons with disabilities, job-seekers or low income, underwent training in the production of handicraft items and how to find a market for them. The project was implemented by the City of Smederevo in partnership with the City Alliance of Social Humanitarian Organisations, within the Swiss PRO Programme supported by the Swiss Government.

“These workshops mean a lot to me. The atmosphere is relaxed and I like doing things like this, both useful and nice,” says Milena Pantović, one of 26 participants in the training held within the project.

Manufacture of magnets, jewellery, decorative bags and bottles, small furniture items, clothes and other applied art products are just some of the skills persons with disabilities in Smederevo have mastered. Apart from discovering new talents, the participants shared ideas and experience, and were helped by their family members.

“They’re unfamiliar with the notions of ‘no’ and ‘I can’t’, they’re willing to try everything. People with severe finger disabilities are working with needles. They are the ones teaching me,” says Jelena Bošković, a workshop trainer.

In addition to the workshops, the project covered the purchase of production material and tools and machines for work in the joint premises, as well as training in launching and running one’s own business and in project design and implementation. In addition, meetings with Smederevo businessmen and institutions engaged in the promotion of tourism were held to discuss their sale of the handicraft items manufactured by persons with disabilities.

Due to the outbreak of the pandemic and measures taken in response to it, the final exhibition, at which the items made during the workshops were to have been sold, has been put off until the situation stabilises, in order to preserve the health of all participants.

“The project adjusted to the new situation. Instead of the final event, a website exhibiting the products has been created. Their regular sale on this virtual bazaar will start once all the legal requirements are fulfilled. This will contribute additionally to the sustainability of the project,” said Marina Ćosović, the project Coordinator on behalf of the City of Smederevo.

The products exhibited on the website will be on sale next year, once all the legal requirements are met.

Through the Swiss PRO programme, the Swiss Government has been supporting local self- governments in implementing social innovation projects in partnership with civil society organisations. These projects aim at improving access to rights and fulfilment of the needs of vulnerable groups, thus facilitating social inclusion.

More information on the results of all CSO projects is available at Programme Results.