Social Empowerment in Rural Areas

March 2016 -
February 2019
1. Innovation 1.3 Non-tech innovation


The project promotes empowerment in social service provisions in rural areas in the Baltic Sea Region. The project aims at improving the social service infrastructure by empowering end-users to participate in service design and delivery.


Vulnerable groups at the risk of poverty and exclusion are affected strongly by this development because their life chances diminish and their potential is neglected. The project aims at improving the social service infrastructure by empowering end users to participate in service design and delivery. Social service providers, such as welfare and public sector organisations, NGOs and social enterprises are encouraged and enabled to involve end users, such as members of disadvantaged groups, such as single parents, the elderly or migrants – in the development and delivery of social services.

Institutional capacity building of social service providers (public, private and third sector) is essential for this process in order to adapt work methods and instruments and successfully manage organisational change. To this end, the project partners will test empowerment approaches in the local context by initiating and end user driven micro projects and developing their entrepreneurial competences. The lessons learned in this process are compiled in an “Empowerment Handbook” that will guide social service provider staff in the practical application of end user involvement. They will also develop training modules and methods to build the empowerment competence of social service provider staff and develop an “Organisational Roadmap for Empowerment” to inspire the leadership level of social service providers to rethink their role in the social economy. Lastly recommendations for policymakers will be derived from the project activities with a view on creating more favourable socioeconomic conditions in rural areas that include a reliable, affordable and accessible service infrastructure. Innovation in the social sector can create growth and job opportunities in the rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region and make them more attractive places to live and work in.

Highlights by mid-term:

To achieve the aim, twenty Local Empowerment Networks were already set up (in DK, EE, FI, DE, LV, LT, PL and SE). Within these networks social service providers, public authorities, NGOs and local organisations cooperate to test different empowerment tools and methods that are meant to improve their work with the identified vulnerable groups. One of the tested tools are micro projects (small-scale initiatives) which aim at offering social services created by end-users at the local level.

At half time, the process has resulted in three locally rooted micro projects. Two projects for seniors regarding rehabilitation at home and support in home tasks (in Vaasa region, FI) and one project dedicated to families with children with autism (in Põlva and Võru, EE). Within the last micro project, parents of disabled children initiated a support group and worked out materials and tools like anti-stress balls to help children with serious mental disabilities.

Project Stories


€ 4.86
€ 3.83
Eni + Russia
€ 0.00
€ 0.00


Social Media



Project manager

Diakonisches Werk Schleswig-Holstein, Landesverband der Inneren Mission e.V.

Doris Scheer

+49 4331 593 140

Legal representative

Diaconie of Schleswig-Holstein

Kay-Gunnar Rohwer

+49 4331593121

Financial manager

Diakonisches Werk Schleswig-Holstein, Landesverband der Inneren Mission e.V.

Susann Greve

+49 4331 593 125

Communication manager

REM Consult

Hauke Siemen

+49 40 657 903 78