Equipped with personal protective equipment and trained on how to act safely in an outbreak situation, the Kratovo team starts their day with a meeting at the town hall. They report on yesterday’s visits, share information about potential new beneficiaries and agree on the day’s schedule before heading out for their rounds. The teams visit the homes of elderly every day. On their request, they do their shopping, pay their bills, deliver their groceries and medications. They even take the time for a short chat with every person they help – from a safe distance and while wearing masks, of course! They talk to them about their day, their health and anything they might needs, while also making sure to advise them on how to adjust their behavior in order to stay safe from the coronavirus.
One of the people engaged through this newly adapted social service is Stanimir Mladenov. Though he is registered as unemployed, for the past few years, he has been able to supplement his income thanks to his part-time engagement in the Community Works programme. He is happy working to help those in need allows him to help support his family.
“The elderly mostly need conversation, particularly now when the recommendations are to stay home. They still don’t fully understand that we have to talk from a distance, but they are slowly getting used to it. It feels good when we can help a little to overcome this unpleasant situation and help the most vulnerable group of people. I am not afraid that I might get infected. My desire to help is greater than my fear!” says Stanimir.
Though the elderly are still in a challenging situation, Evgenija is very appreciative of the help provided by Stanimir and his team. “I’m very happy whenever someone brings me a simple bottle of sparkling water, so you can imagine how great it to have someone bring me all my groceries from the market. When they come to my door, I give them my bills and my money, they pay them and that’s that! I’m satisfied, without a doubt!”
Kratovo is one of 27 municipalities in North Macedonia that partnered with UNDP’s Community Works programme on adapting their social services in support of the country’s COVID-19 response. The Programme engages almost 200 unemployed persons as service providers for more than 1500 beneficiaries. The programme originally was designed to improve the scope and reach of social services for vulnerable groups in 53 municipalities, but it also helps to improve the livelihoods of the unemployed service providers by giving them steady source of income and opportunities to learn skills that improve their employability.
Since the Community Works programme first launched in 2012, 53,250 people have benefited from direct assistance and over 30% of participating service providers have managed to find secure employment. In UNDP’s global context, the programme contributes to SDGs 1, 8 and 10 – reducing poverty by providing decent jobs, all geared towards reducing inequality by making sure that those most in need are not left behind.
The Community Works programme is funded by Government of North Macedonia, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and UNDP, and is implemented in partnership with North Macedonia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the National Employment Service Agency.