About

Initiatives for a Social Solidarity Economy (ISSE) – Community Works

… is a partnership project funded through the Erasmus+ program.

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The partnership was established in response to growth in the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) (Also known as Social Enterprise in the UK) which has become a credible alternative for sustainability within the EU.

The partnership Aims

… to bring together education, the economy and the public sector. It includes training companies, a university, non formal education organisations and networks of SSE. Its aim is to identify common approaches, strategies and tools to promote awareness, recognition, development and advocacy of SSE through:

  • Creating a network for the exchange good practices among the actors, technical, professional and leadership, within SSE.
  • Investigation / analysis within the partnership countries of the impact of SSE on economic development, and on existing educational practices and training needs.
  • Developing a common framework of competences within SSE and building on them specific training modules with an emphasis on non-formal education.
  • Developing tools (an educational virtual game ‘serious game’) and events (a European seminar on ESS).
  • Strengthening the capacity of the partners within SSE.

Background

In most countries of the European Union SSE is seen as an alternative response to the financial crisis, rising unemployment and social inequality. In some it has become synonymous with citizens and civil society acting to influence their environment and promote social transformation. In France, and other EU states, a legislative framework for SSE is being discussed within local and or national government.

The Term SSE has a broad meaning and includes many social economy initiatives and economic solidarity, within which are a wide variety of practices and structures from, NGO’s to social cooperatives. It includes social entrepreneurship, community action companies, social innovation, fair trade, social gardens and responsible tourism. It also includes many education and training institutions and companies active within the sector who are developing sector skills and entrepreneurship through providing workshops and courses.

Definition

There is no common definition within Europe for SSE and the organisations within this partnership reflect this. Individually the organisations have different priorities and as such define SSE in different ways.

However, we started from a common set of values orientated towards;

prioritizing the satisfaction of human needs through a commitment to the natural and social environment above personal gain. With the integration of democracy, participation and solidarity seen as fundamental elements of economic activity.

We agreed a common definition for SSE that encompasses these values and forms the framework for the working relationship between the partners, which is:

Long version

  • SSE is a social movement aimed at promoting an economy organised collectively to satisfy people’s needs in their multiple dimensions (including care and social participation) and places cooperation and mutual respect above individual profit.
  • It is comprised of a wide variety of socioeconomic practices based upon a cooperative, democratic and transparent structure of fair governance that respects the rights and interests of all. SSE organisations act with social and environmental responsibility, as such, their activities, products and services have a strong social and environmental commitment. Its practices are developed mainly at a local level with a global perspective.
  • As a social movement SSE promotes an economy made with and by the people, as such, engagement of citizens and collaboration between related groups are crucial to foster this change in economic practice. It requires working together in three key areas: the creation of viable alternative economic practices, the active promotion and engagement with public institutions and the defence of existing economic rights.

Short version

SSE is a social movement comprising a variety of socio-economics practices orientated by four main principles:

  • Collective organisation aiming to satisfy people’s needs in their multiple dimensions (including care and social participation) above individual profit.
  • Democratic and transparent organisation that respects the rights and interests of all.
  • Commitment to active social and environmental responsibility.
  • Collaboration, cooperation and networking.

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