“Social innovations do not happen by themselves. Throughout their life cycle, they need to be supported and nurtured if they are to make an impact on society and the economy.” Empowering people, driving change – social innovation in the European Union, European Commission, 2011.
In September 2016 started the ERASMUS+ project Senior Social Entrepreneuring The context for the project and at the same time the key messages from Commission policy
The project objective is to mobilize teams of seniors in participating project communities and beyond to build capacity among them to serve as SOCIAL CHANGE BROKERS in these communities, spotting social change needs, bringing together relevant stakeholders and citizens and facilitate or drive the social change process, and to exploit the social change processes to sustain their activity through creating appropriate organizational frameworks, be it as volunteers, association members, employees, consultants or social service providers. The project brings together 3 top priorities in Europe 2020 policy:
- The need to retain or re-engage the increasing number of European seniors as active social and economic contributors
- The need to bring about social innovation as an alternative to traditional public services
- The need to promote entrepreneurial mind-sets and initiative-taking in the communities The project brings together those policy needs in a strong, systematic and sustainable, yet practical and realistic way: – it will mobilise groups of seniors in European communities to build capacity to act as SOCIAL CHANGE BROKERS in the communities, identifying social change needs and facilitating the change process by bringing together relevant stakeholders across relevant sectors, including activating citizens as co-drivers of social change. A senior social entrepreneur can be a CATALYST of social change.
The project’s European network, developed along the project, will serve as platform for further European initiatives, as social innovation driven by citizens (in this case seniors) will need time to fully unfold. New initiatives can build on the lessons learned from the Senior Social Entrepreneuring project and from similar projects, and might address a variety of European funding measures. 14 In particular, the project aims to create a qualified EaSI initiative to be submitted in 2016 or 2017, taking the Senior Social Entrepreneuring and similar projects to a systemic and mainstreaming level.
City of Aarhus Denmark, University of Chester UK, Pistes-Solidaires France E-Seniors, Paris France, Association GENERATIONS Bulgaria,The Chamber of Commerce of Sabadell Spain, National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing Italy,Working with Europe, Spain