People to People Central Europe is a pilot phase of a program funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), implemented in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary. EPIC covered the topic of social innovation in Slovakia in the Banská Bystrica and Prešov regions, where thanks to several activities we have managed to attract people from both regions and discuss the topic of social innovation as such, open new topics, bring together institutions, self-governments, universities and civil society, and share examples of good practice in Slovakia and abroad. The project started in November 2018 and ends in August 2019.
During the several months of the pilot project, we carried out many activities, including a small research on the perception of social innovation in Prešov and Banská Bystrica regions, we participated in a study visit to Scotland, where we acquired a lot of inspiration, we also organized a study visit to Slovakia for social entrepreneurship experts from Great Britain where guests could see successful social enterprises and initiatives in Slovakia. The highlight of the project was the 3-day Ideas Lab workshop in Banská Bystrica at the end of March, where experts on social innovation and social entrepreneurship met to discuss topics in this area and the Social Innovation Festival in Prešov and Banská Bystrica at the end of June brought very interesting insights from all the project strands, where community art and critical thinking were discussed in addition to social innovation. In collaboration with experts, we have adapted and translated the school pack material aimed at supporting the development of social entrepreneurship already in elementary and high schools, which is currently in use in the UK and which can be downloaded at the end of the article.
We were also able to financially support three very interesting projects that were partly an outcome of our three-day Ideas Lab meeting in Banská Bystrica. Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica will implement the project “Mentoring for the establishment of a social enterprise” within the new study program “Social Work Management”, which also aims to create a student social enterprise, Pontis Foundation in cooperation with the elementary school Sekier, which will connect the Primary School in the Sekier city district with local companies in Zvolen and the surrounding area in a series of experiential activities where pupils are given the opportunity to try a series of jobs in their town and its surroundings, and the organisation Alternatíva, Centre for independent life from Lučenec will use the grant to support art creation of mentally disabled peole from the former manor house Dolná Slatinka to spend their time meaningfully.
The pilot phase of the People to People Centra Europe have reached almost 3000 people and 100 organisations across all the participanting countries.