Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The main beneficiaries of BAGázs live in the segregated Roma settlements of Bag (400 people) and Dány (600 people) in Central Hungary. A survey conducted by the Association in 2017 showed that the local community is far from homogeneous and the households vary greatly from one another, but the fundamental characteristics of segregated areas still fundamentally define the lives of the communities. Less than half of the adults living in the slum have not finished primary school. Of these, one quarter are most likely illiterate, having failed to complete even the first two grades. It is presumably linked to the low level of education that despite nearly half of slum residents having regular work, the average net income is 227.54 EUR (72,000 HUF) per months, and in some families, due to the high number of children, per capita income is far below average. The most pressing problem in the Roma slums in Bag and Dány today is the spreading and pervasive use of designer drugs. The work of BAGázs extends beyond the segregated settlements to the local village communities and to the level of society. The Association build relationships and cooperation with local institutions: local governments in Bag and Dány, kindergarten and primary school in Bag, family and child welfare services, police. ‘Parent Group for Our Hometown’ (SzöSz: Szülői Összefogás Szülőfalunkért) is a citizens’ initiative in Bag. They work with BAGázs from Summer 2018, and they play an important role to getting to know and accept the Work of BAGázs in the village. One of the most important aspects of BAGázs method is the high number of committed volunteers supported the professional work. In the beginning (2011) yearly 20-30 volunteers supported the professional work, in 2018 they have more than 100 volunteers per year.
BAGázs is working to eliminate socio-cultural disadvantages of Roma people living in these segregated settlements. This can only be achieved if they jointly set up changes in the community of the settlements and in the majority society. The Association seeks to make the Roma people more capable, while at the same time sensitising and making more accepting the people belonging to the majority society. The program structure consists of 8 programs: mentoring for children, free-time activities, summer camp, women’s club, legal clinic and debt management, job hunt, adult education program, mentoring for adults, family consultation. The programs are based on local needs, so they are constantly evolving and adapting to the community. Most of the programs are organised by volunteers, so they are directly involved in professional work. The development of the BAGázs method is the result of a multi-year learning process that resulted in a complex program structure based on holistic, multi-level approach. The learning process is very reflective and conscious based on continuous assessment of experiences and results. Some program elements were largely modified during the last years (e.g. mentoring), and some elements have been omitted (e.g. small garden program or sport program). During the planning and implementation of the different programs the BAGázs Association interact with many stakeholders (e.g. donors, local public institutions, local civil organisations). Many of them play a crucial role in the co-planning and co-production of the programs.
Digital Transformation Process
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
BAGázs started a social enterprise in 2016, which can be a useful additional element to the core activity of the association. BAGázs Bazaar consits of a mobile and a regular charity shop and a community centre in Budapest. In Bagázs Bazaar they do not only recycle used clothes but are also able to provide job opportunities to people from the settlements. This way they can gain experience and prepare for entering the labour market. BAGázs Bazaar is also a Community Centre. By opening a community space in Budapest, the Association is broadening the horizon of the volunteer work, while providing further programs for underprivileged children. Main results in numbers:
- permanent presence in 2 Roma settlements (Bag, Dány);
- a complex program structure consisting of 8 programs for children and adults, 75% of families in the slums participated in these programs;
- 15 paid employees (9 full-time, 6 part-time employees);
- in 2018 more than 100 volunteers are trained and involved in their programs to bring new patterns to the closed communities;
- more than 200 Roma participants.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
The public social service system in Hungary is very fragmented, the colleagues of public institutions in this sector (e.g. case managers of the Guardianship Offices) are often overburdened, the prestige of social work is low, and therefore the lack of appropriate professionals is typical. The long-term finance is also a crucial question for the Association, they try to find more regular supporters. The relationship with local governments in Bag and Dány is not always supportive. Manifestations of antigypsyism, including hostility, prejudice and discrimination specifically directed at Roma combined with stereotypical portrayals of Roma constitute the predominant narrative in all majority society.
Transferability & Replicability
Together with the local social care system and municipalities, the BAGázs is working to solve problems together. As an independent NGO, the BAGázs feels responsible for addressing systemic issues and making changes in related professional areas. Presenting in the press and social media in order to gain more publicity and at the same time strengthen the potential for change within the Roma community.
The BAGázs supports entire families through individual and group programs. In the last years 75% of the families in the slums participated in these programs. There are also employees of BAGázs living in the segregated settlements. Their training and development demonstrates the potential and credibility of change not only for individuals but for the community as a whole. Communication between the non-Roma residents in the villages and the segregated Roma communities is being strengthened, with the aim of presenting everyone’s point of view and providing a basis for co-planning and co-operation. Volunteers participate in the on-site professional work on a weekly basis. The personal and ongoing contact with Roma people gives the volunteers a deeper understanding of the complex problem, and also the personal experience of obstacles makes volunteers more sensitive, receptive.
The innovative approach of BAGázs method is based on voluntary and bottom-up processes. During the planning and implementation of the different programs the BAGázs Association interact with many stakeholders (e.g. donors, local public institutions, local civil organisations). Many of them play a crucial role in the co-planning and co-production of the programs. The development of the BAGázs method is the result of a multi-year learning process. This process is very reflective and conscious based on continuous assessment of experiences and results. The BAGázs method can be interpreted as an interactive process of innovation.