• FACE TO FACE – A Voice and Power for the Voiceless & Vulnerable

    The extent to which a society is developed can be seen in its dedication to protecting the rights of vulnerable and minority groups. This is the first lesson of the principles of democracy and a prerequisite for freedom and quality of life.Unfortunately, the path to a free society is long, windy, and without immediate results. To properly protect and integrate those people who have found themselves at the margins of the society, a new approach is required, a long term strategy that does not passively wait for new systems or rely on alms. We’re talking about a long term approach in which active and conscious citizenship, civil society organizations, institutions, companies and other structures will continuously support vulnerable citizens in their decision to accept the biggest challenge: a “decent job”.

    In Macedonia for the last 4 years, the street paper “Face to Face” has taken on the role of initiator, supporter and mediator of the changes needed in the lives of the most vulnerable. Active in six cities around the country, its second name could also be “Step by Step”, since the changes it generates emerge from the rhythm of durable, tangible actions with real effect.
    Basically, “Face to Face” aims to impact the lives of people who for various reasons have found themselves on the sidelines, by helping them to develop their entrepreneurial spirit as a basis for further progress.

    Moreover, “Face to Face” is a pioneer in promoting the model of social entrepreneurship in Macedonia, though the country’s proposed Law on Social Entrepreneurship has yet to pass. This product, from which half of the revenue always remains with the seller, is primarily a response to the economic crises that emerge in almost every society undergoing a process of transition, as Macedonia has in recent years. The basic approach is to use work as a tool to make these vulnerable citizens more socially and economically resilient. By focusing on their abilities, they feel useful and see themselves as an important part of society. With this labor model, they have the opportunity to be responsible for the successes they can achieve and escape the cycle of poverty into which they have fallen.

    The concept of “Face to Face” is one of the most innovative and successful self-help initiatives for the homeless and other vulnerable groups in Macedonia. The magazine works with a number of target groups, including youth over 16, homeless people, people with a history of alcohol abuse, disabled people, social welfare recipients, single parents, former victims of violence, etc.
    Selling “Face to Face” is a micro business for these people and provides benefits on several levels, including: daily sustenance, shelter, social inclusion, and adequate preparation for reintegration into the labor market.

    Returning from street to school; from street and uncertainty to being at work, from open sky to shelter above head… are just some of the changes generated by the “Face to Face” model. Each story is different, but almost everyone has a positive outcome.

    1.Armando is a young man that replaced the street with school hours by taking the “Face to face”–challenge. Through numerous trainings, an award for continuous development and commitment to one’s work, and trips in Europe, he was able to take responsibility for his life. He is one of the heroes of “Face to Face” and manages his earnings to support a family of eight. Through his work and dedication, Armando motivates other vendors to make success inevitable. “I feel secure working for ‘Face to Face’. If in a day I sell more magazines than usual, I immediately begin to think of all the plans I have” says Armando, whose dream for the future is to become a hairdresser.

    “I support ‘Face to face’ because some people were not given the best shot in life. With this initiative we will be able to provide those shots that are missing”, said the famous Macedonian actor Sasko Kocev.

    The process of selling the magazine is generally face-to-face and represents another opportunity to raise people’s awareness about poverty and homelessness. This serves to fight common and pervasive stereotypes. Changing the way, the general public sees these groups influences their own self-perception as acceptance becomes more widespread. In this way, the vendor of the street magazine will not wait for passive measurements from the state and its institutions, but will actively act towards the enhancement of their everyday lives.

    “I feel good working with ‘Face to Face’. Of course,it’s my job. It is shameful to hold out one’s hand and beg. On the other hand, life without money is difficult. The most important thing you need is consistent work, to go on site and work” – said Sadik Ercan, the best seller of “Face to Face” for 2015.

    Before entering into the work process and the ongoing operations, “Face to Face” vendors undergo a training which focuses on self-confidence, motivation, sales techniques and improvement of communication skills.
    The preparatory program is conducted by a certified trainer for personal development, a social worker and a psychotherapist, in coordination with a mentor who is assigned to each seller.

    “F2.ace to Face” enjoys credibility among public figures in Macedonia from all areas and spheres of society, who selflessly give their voice to support the specific priorities of the entire platform. “Face to Face” furthermore has a mission to stimulate and awaken social responsibility among companies. The vendors serve as bearers of social change, especially through different activities they conduct (in cooperation with companies) and are continuously alerting about important issues of our life.

    One such example was a campaign which used the selling of the magazine to influence reading habits, especially among young people. This campaign had positive repercussions on several levels in improving the quality of society.

    Through its content, the magazine continuously works to break prejudices, to raise awareness, to support and encourage collaboration and partnerships, to inform, to educate, and to build values.

    The sellers of the magazine, as our fellow citizens, each have a unique, personal story. They also have the same rights, desires, potentials and the urge for belonging that everyone else has. In order to understand these citizens and act accordingly, it is necessary to have a sharp and awakened civil and social sense.

    Another very important aspect is the coordinated effort to improve the situation of marginalized people. Only in this way, if we all work together, the goal can be achieved faster. The ultimate goal is the economic and social empowerment of the vulnerable groups of citizens. If we are aware of the efforts made in this sphere, only if we listen to each other and exchange experiences, we can move forward from the starting point. And our goal is to move continuously and to move in the right direction.

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