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European Social Fund Plus

From birth to employment: the “presence” model in Kunhegyes district, Hungary

Photo showing a community event in Kunhegyes

Since 2015, the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta has been implementing the ‘presence’ model in one of Hungary’s most disadvantaged districts, Kunhegyes.

Of the 7 municipalities in the district, one of the poorest is Tiszabő, with a population of 2,000 people. When the Charity first arrived here, the diagnosis was harsh. 

The community was plagued with high school dropout rates, families in spiralling debt, early at-risk pregnancies, and many young people – including children – suffering from addiction. Adults had limited employment opportunities, and no real alternative to find a decent income on which to build a well-functioning family. 

A lack of adequate professional support – with few special needs teachers, speech therapists, and psychologists – meant that the community lacked the critical support needed to improve their situation.

Using funding from the ESF, the Charity is now able to provide personal and permanent support to each of the 420 families in the community, reaching everyone, from the youngest to the eldest.

Investing in the future of children

Behind much of the work, there is a core belief that education is a key pathway out of poverty. Children are supported from birth to employment, using a family-like approach in school and focusing on community-building out of it, through camps and day care activities, along with drug prevention.

A major challenge in the community is the lack of high school graduates. When the charity arrived, only one child had graduated from secondary school in almost 10 years.

In response, a mentoring scheme was set up to tutor the children through secondary school. Progress has been stark. Many of the participants now graduate, and those few children who do drop out can follow local education through lower-level vocational training in agriculture.

The Charity also built a vegetable processing plant in the community to provide employment, along with a kitchen to prepare meals for children and a nursery.

Thanks to the project in Kunhegyes district, and several others implemented by the Charity with ESF and ERDF funding, families are now able to plan ahead, helping them out of a spiral of debt. 

For many of them, the days of surviving from one month to the next are over. The work is not complete, but thanks to the ESF times are changing in Kunhegyes.

Project details

Project name
Supportive presence from birth to vocational training in the Kunhegyes district
Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta
Project start
Project end
Contact details
Name of contact person: Soltészné Imre Edina
Telephone number: +36304602930
Total budget
EUR 1 005 862.97
EU Budget contribution
EUR 854 983.47