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In practice

The So Stay Hotel

Summary

Gdansk, Poland—

  • The municipality of Gdansk, Poland, established the So Stay Hotel in 2016 to improve the economic prospects and labour market opportunities of young people who grew up in care homes.

  • The hotel is run by a social enterprise and is the first socially responsible facility in Poland.

Published on the 13/09/2023

Geographical scaleCity / metropolitan area

KeywordsYouth, Unemployed and inactive

ThemesSocial and solidarity economy, Local employment and skills

CountryPoland

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What are the objectives?

The key objective of the So Stay Hotel programme is to address the challenges faced by young people who grew up in care homes in relation to access to education and vocational training in mainstream education. The qualifications and work experience gained under the guidance of professionals, help young people become self-independent.

How does it work in practice?

The So Stay Hotel was established in 2016 thanks to the cooperation of the Gdansk local authority with local business partners. Based on the motto “Responsible for business – responsible for the community” the hotel was created to change the lives of young people who, due to their neglect by adults, grew up outside of their family homes.

The hotel operates on an innovative model, which combines a market approach (earning on services) with social responsibility by providing concrete support and vocational training for young people leaving care. At the hotel, young people gain qualifications and work experience through different types of programmes, including internships and job placements in the hotel. Thanks to the individualised approach and guidance from professionals in the hotel sector, participants gain relevant skills that enable them to have future opportunities in mainstream employment. Moreover, for young people who experience a difficult housing situation, the programme provides housing support as they learn.

A key element of support for young participants is professional mentoring. Professional mentoring consists of professional development and the mentoring of young persons in a professional career path. Throughout the development process, the mentor educates, supports and motivates the young participant. Two years after the start of the programme, the mentoring role is taken over by former apprentices who by then had acquired professional readiness to perform the task and to support new apprentices.

In the initial phases, the So Stay Hotel was supported financially by the local authority (which leased the building free of charge) and a range of business partners (who donated money to renovate and equip the facility to accommodate a three-star hotel). The hotel and its occupational training, however, are funded without the use of public subsidies, solely on the basis of its business income. The profit from the services provided covers the costs of youth education and running the business and in this way, the programme is completely decoupled from public subsidies/welfare support.

What has been the impact?

After two years of activity, in 2018, five people found employment outside the hotel. In addition, 10 people under 18 have completed the internship programme and continued their formal education. A further 10 participants have continued to work in the hotel, through the hotel’s professional development programme. Finally, 12 young people started to live independently, receiving a little non-financial support.

What can other communities learn from this example?

One of the key success factors of the Hotel is the integrated approach to assisting young people in the transition to adulthood and independence (including through mentoring, paid internship and assisted living). The programme has reduced the operating costs of assisting young people and eliminated their dependency on social benefits and the welfare system more generally. Another success factor is the strong cooperation between local businesses, the public sector and civil society as well as its sustainable business model.

Further information

OECD resources

OECD (2022), "Future-proofing adult learning systems in cities and regions: A policy manual for local governments", OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Papers, No. 2022/03, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/11fa26cc-en.

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