Excitement at the airport. It is the first flight for the majority of the group. Destination for the participants of the workshops from Germany and the Netherlands is Ariany at Mallorca. This unusual destination is the starting point for the first exchange meeting of all participants of the Erasmus+-funded project evi - "european vocational inclusion".
In joint meetings, the group, consisting of participants with disabilities and specialists from the different workshops, works out possibilities to participate people with intellectual disabilities into the primary labor market – and this all over Europe.
The first meeting in Mallorca offers an outlook in the direction of inclusion. For the first time standards for vocational qualification in Europe are created to give people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to show their skills also on the primary labor market.
To be more precise, the educational specialists are developing a framework for a qualification that is supposed to be comparable in the field of gastronomy and service.
Participants with disabilities test the framework during the exchange meetings.
Often only small adjustments have to be done to give people with disabilities the opportunity to work in the general labor market. As an example, one of the first learning units tested in Mallorca were personal hygiene and food preparation - basic requirements for working in gastronomy.
After experiencing the Spanish carnival as a group, first fears are gone. Even the language barriers are no obstacles to celebrate the first success while cooking a typical Spanish paella together.
At the end of the week, the farewell was particularly emotional. Friendships were formed after seven days with a lot of activities and experiences together as one big group. Therefore, everyone is looking forward to the next exchange meeting in September 2020 in Bedum, were everyone will meet again.
The specialist staff of the canteens and cafés, as well as the coordinators of the four participating sheltered workshops met in Oldenburg from December 2nd - 4th. The participants met for the second time, so meeting again was a great pleasure for everybody and the group could get into the topics directly.
Mostly, the group discussed about the content and the structure of the vocational qualification that is to be developed for the sector catering/cooking. Furthermore, part of the agenda was planning the upcoming exchange meeting with the participants in Mallorca in February 2020.
The lunch breaks took place in the canteen of Baumhaus, in „Café Kurswechsel“ (GWO) and in the canteen „Machbar“ (GWO), so the specialists from Oldenburg could show their working places and the group got an impression of the concrete work on site.
The participants were excited about the visit of the vocational school „BBS 3“ in Oldenburg – a school for trainees in the sector catering/cooking/housekeeping. Moreover, the school has a cooperation with the sheltered workshops in Oldenburg. Some participants of the vocational training within the sheltered workshops participate in classes on site. The plan is to expand this offer so that all participants can attend the classes of the BBS 3 together. The guests of Spain and the Netherlands were very interested because the dual system of the vocational training has a great importance in Germany.
In the end, the group agreed: it has been a successful and exciting exchange in Oldenburg.
Now everybody is looking forward to February 2020, because the first exchange with all participants in a big group will take place in Mallorca. There the groups will test the developed learning units for the first time.
Tuesday, 14th of May: our first stop was Germany. We made use of the opportunity and visited the hotel „Villa Stern“ in Oldenburg, which belongs to our partner institution Baumhaus. It’s a very charming place where each room is arranged individually.
On Wednesday, 15th we travelled to Bedum in the Netherlands. There we met the hosting professionals of the sheltered workshop s’Heeren Loo.
The aim of the first workshop day was to create a common base for working together. Each sheltered workshop presented their individual offers and functioning. Furthermore, we talked of the expectations of everybody and which role each person and each institution fulfils within the project evi. To conclude the first day in Bedum we experienced a traditional canal ride through the city of Groningen.
On Thursday, 16th we got deeper into the different topics. We worked on the concept for the learning units. We as well talked about the requirements, the working plan and the future perspectives of evi. At the end of the second day we visited the sheltered workshop of s’Heeren Loo and some activities like an own shop where manufactured products are sold. Unfortunately, we already had to travel back to Germany on that afternoon.
Before our departure back to Spain, we took advantage of the opportunity to visit more departments of the German sheltered workshops. On Friday, 17th we visited the different sections of Baumhaus. Baumhaus has a manufacture for soaps, a bicycle repair shop, a wood workshop, assisted living and of course a public canteen.
We went to the „Machbar“ for lunch, a public canteen which is operated by the Gemeinnützigen Werkstätten. We had the opportunity to talk to the chef. He explained the structure and the functioning of the canteen. We as well visited the „Café Kurswechsel“ (GWO), where we could peek a glimpse behind the scenes. It was very exciting to visit these two institutions, because they function in a very different way, although they belong to the same institution.
We experienced four very productive days, in which we got to know the other professionals who are working in our partner organizations and created a good base for working together. It has been a pleasant and successful visit, which enabled us to go a step forward achieving the goals of our project evi.
Translation of the Spanish text written by Laura Pérez, Mater Misericordiae