Toruń hosted the Big Forum for Social Economy for the fifth time, which took place last week, from 8 to 12 September. During these days, social economy entities of the region had the chance to exchange their own experiences and everybody who wanted could learn more about social economy. A big room full of people left no doubt that this matter is gaining more and more importance with firm step.
On Friday, the last day of this annual event, assistants could participate in conferences related to how to support social entities. It was said that three different impulses are needed for that: political, social as well as entrepreneurial.
People’s initiative is very important to organize a better environment so one of the suggestions was that governments should work in new laws that enable people to create new associations and organizations easily. Unfortunately, setting up a social cooperative is tricky: there are a lot of requirements and obligations. In Poland, at least 15 people are needed to set up a new social cooperative, which is a lot.
Many of those proposals are focused on the same objective: Europe 2020. “Europe 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy for the coming decade. In a changing world, we want the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive”, states the EU. In Poland, one of these goals is to set up 20,000 more associations and to create 40,000 new workplaces.
It is very important that people care more about how things work in a local level. They said that, usually, we all know who the President of Poland is but, sometimes, we have no idea about who is the mayor of our own town, who is likely making decisions that most directly affect people.
Another initiative was that local governments could work together with non-governmental organizations, for example, transferring to NGOs some of their public issues in order to diversify tasks.
Seeking inspiration inside and outside
It is also crucial that, as long as there are benefits, these are reinvested again into social cooperatives in order to make them stronger. It is well known that Polish social cooperatives were more powerful in the past, so Poles don’t have to look towards western countries but to look back and learn from previous experiences that took place right here.
On the other hand, the last conference was about the good ideas that we can take from other countries. Talking about social economy, Poland is a developing country so, Przemysław Piechocki, from Stowarzyszenie Na Rzecz Spółdzielni Socjalnych held that, in some years, we could reach the level of UK or Italy, leaders in this field. “It is really important to have faith in what we are doing”, he concluded.