The foundation Hea Hoog (Good Start) has offered the opportunity to work for people with special needs for eight years. This year, they offer help with working opportunities for approximately 600 people across Estonia.
Anu Hall, the development manager of the foundation, explains why people with special needs should work at all: “First and foremost, people with reduced capacity to work are willing and able to work. Our aim is to give them a chance to live an ordinary life. Additionally, Estonia is in dire need of workforce – we don’t have enough people to do the work. Employers are in a difficult situation and people with special needs could assist them with many tasks.”
These are people with their own quirks and special traits. “For example, we have a man with an intellectual disability and he cannot read or write. At first, he worked at a residential unit, but now he’s been on the open labour market for three years and works in the meat processing industry. He goes to work by public transport and he’s a very diligent worker. In fact, the problem tends to be that he doesn’t rest enough,” says Anu about one of their success stories.
In total, there are 12 work centres across Estonia by now. Anu explains that their hand-crafted products are made of all kinds of materials, based on the principle of upcycling. “Newspapers get a new life, as they are used to weave baskets. The materials for rag rugs are scraps from tailoring companies or second hand stores. Egg trays and candle residues can be used to make fun little flower-shaped kits for starting a fire. Pet products are also very popular.”
In addition to producing handicrafts, the foundation also offers services to private persons and companies. According to Anu, there are many simple, yet important jobs that people with special needs manage very well and with great pleasure. “For example, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, digging up the ground, cleaning indoors and outdoors. We have been discovered by housing associations and our services are so popular that there are areas where we are unable to accept new clients,” says Anu.
The most important thing, of course, is the wellbeing of the workers: “They feel that they are important and can also make their contributions with their work – work that is needed and valued. It is an important issue because it raises their self-esteem and provides a goal in life.”
Webpage: Hea Hoog
Photo: Arengukoostöö Ümarlaud
Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Job opportunities and decent working conditions are also required for the whole working age population. There needs to be increased access to financial services to manage incomes, accumulate assets and make productive investments. Increased commitments to trade, banking and agriculture infrastructure will also help increase productivity and reduce unemployment levels in the world’s most impoverished regions.
The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
This publication has been produced with the financial support from the Nordic Council of Ministers. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the coordinators of this project and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
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