This project is being implemented by the City of Ostrava as part of the European Commission’s international URBACT III programme. Its main goal is to share good practice, know-how and results among project partners. The key task of each partner, including Ostrava, is to understand the good practice being implemented by the head partner, the City of Lisbon. The project also enables participating cities to select activities which are suitable for implementation in their own local conditions.
The purpose of the Com.Unity.Lab programme is to transfer good practices from Lisbon to Ostrava and six other participating European cities; this will strengthen “neighbourly cohesion” in districts which require active intervention and support for change and development. The City of Lisbon has undertaken targeted mapping which has determined that although only around 8% of the city’s area consists of disadvantaged areas, social problems affect up to 30% of the total population. This alarming discovery led the city to devise a comprehensive strategy, whose implementation was launched in 2012. The city realized that improving quality of life in these disadvantaged areas improves quality of life for all people in the city; for example, it helps to reduce crime, truancy and the number of single-parent families, while also strengthening community ties.
The project will last two years, and it will be implemented on two levels.
International: Detailed fact-finding about good practice in partner countries, processes of implementation, obstacles, essential resources and auxiliary tools, involvement of local stakeholders in international workshops, peer review and other methods of information-sharing.
Local: Processes for the local implementation of good practice and identification of optimum methods. The project will involve a range of relevant local actors and stakeholders, and good practice will then be disseminated from Ostrava into other Czech cities.
The Dubina housing estate is the pilot district in Ostrava for the transfer, implementation and verification of good practice from Lisbon. This location (part of the Ostrava-Jih municipal district) has been chosen for a number of reasons. It is one of the city’s less desirable areas, with a largely low-income population and a higher-than-average occurrence of negative socioeconomic indicators. During the project, the Dubina estate will be mapped with the assistance of local people and other stakeholders, addressing a range of aspects (social, economic, urban and environmental). Based on the results of this participative process, a grant funding scheme will be devised to support the development of community life in the area. It may develop into a regular funding programme providing a platform for civil society activities by the local community, supported both technically and financially by the City of Ostrava. Such a programme would support selected projects and activities related to improvements in public spaces, sports, cultural and community activities and educational programmes, social innovations, preventive programmes, and other creative activities aiming to reduce the risk of social exclusion for members of the local community. These activities will help enhance quality of life in the target territory – which will ultimately have a beneficial impact on quality of life in Ostrava as a whole.
In late February a public opinion survey was conducted at selected locations in the Dubina and Bělský Les housing estates. This “neighbourhood survey” will help the project team to map the needs of the local community and to fine-tune the details of the grant funding programme which will be implemented to help support neighbourhood-based projects in the target territory and in other parts of Ostrava. The results of the survey are currently being analyzed.
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