Self Help Community is an organisation which consists of group of elderly retired people.

Key Innovation
To provide selfsustainable community which enables to support each other, to spend time together, gives possibilities earn extra to their income and dine out with friendly prices.

Problematic background and context
The life in Estonia is not developed so far, that everyone can feel themselves secure. Among the retired people, who need social safetyness. Retired people who have lost their husband, have difficulties to find their place in fast moving society. Specially in Estonia, where young generation has stepped on the place of old during the political changes started 12 years ago. Social system in Estonia is not very highly developed, pensions are low and lot of old people have economical problems and thoughts of “wrong lived life”.

Solution description
There are 48 pensioner-members in Self Help Community. It functions over 7 years. In the beginning some pensioners just started to make handicraft together. They could start to sell their stuff when they got the house to open a shop. It is a profit organisation, officially established on 15.011992. Self Help has its own house near the city centre. On the first ground they may use the house for free as a handicraft shop, cafeteria and hairdresser. The cafeteria is the meeting place for elderly and lonely people. It is also run by the organisation. There is also a little entertainment – twice a week they can hear live music. A musician comes to sing play guitar and he does not get paid – he does it for food. The meal prices in the cafeteria are very low. And the prices in handicraft shop are also low. Most of the stuff is made by the members of Self Help, but there are some things what is made by non-members. The promotor of Self Help says, that they take for selling only very beautiful things – the beauty is the main task how they choose selling stuff. The shopkeepers are the members and they work for free 3-4 times a month according to the schedule. Self Help came to life for offering moral backing for old people. To give the meaning of their lives and give a new “family”. The social sphere in Estonia is not developed so much – most of the old people are very poor. Self Help is the place where people can share caring. Self Help Community is always looking for an outside help, because their financial situation is not so good to keep going independently.

The community became to life 15 years ago. Now they have developed the system and it works well. If they find finance the level well be the same. Or it will be better. The future depends only on money, but the people wish the best. If the government should give a little support, the Self Help should have no problems to view the future.

Revenue/costs model
They earn money in the handicraft shop – 10 % they keep – so can they pay for electricity and firewood for heating. Every member works in the shop for free – the Self Help can not pay any money they sometimes give food stamps for getting free food from the cafeteria. The turnover of the shop 2003 – 159513 EEK, 10.000 EUR 2004 – 141300 EEK

Social evaluation
Old people, who feel themselves continually biocomplete, notice and emphasise the environment and neighbourhood. The value caring, they can help the others and the others help them.

Environmental evaluation
The very important task of Self Help is the estonian national handicraft. The old people who sell their things, keep evaluating this tradition and give the knowledge to younger people. After joining the EU, its is more and more important for a small nation to keep its own cultural traditions and national quaintness.

Economical evaluation
Estonian´s finantcial situation is transmuting more and more expencive. Everybody cannot buy what they want. Self Help gives possibilities to buy things by cheeper prices.

Maris Korrol, Krista Thomson / Estonian Academy of Arts / Estonia

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