Project: Employment of Community Assistants

To enhance the impact of a complex educational programme

The interlinked problems of segregation, a malfunctioning education system, unemployment and poverty create a vicious circle for the marginalised community of Csobánka that prevents social mobility and leads to generations of disadvantage. Csodaműhely Association aims to tackle this problem by running a Complex Programme for Equal Opportunities targeting infants and their mothers, children, teenagers, adults and professionals alike.

The work of the Association has enjoyed wide-spread support throughout the local community and its programmes are built on well-grounded assessment. However, some programme elements are less embedded due to their more recent introduction and it is common that information about programmes does not reach certain families. In addition, with the change of external circumstances, new needs may arise and the Association requires extra input from the community to detect these. The organisation has also faced organisational challenges due to capacity shortages.

To help address these challenges, the Foundation supported the Community Assistance Pilot Programme with funding for the employment of three local assistants - initially for one year (October 2019 – October 2020). The pilot tested whether the employment of community assistants could lead to a smoother operation and greater impact by ensuring: information reached all families, the needs of the community and subsequent feedback was gathered more efficiently, community members better understood the opportunities available, as well as being motivated and supported to take full advantage of the programmes. The pilot programme also aimed to provide capacity building and development opportunities for the community assistants whose professional trajectory could take a new turn, after gaining valuable experience in the charity sector. 

The initial months of implementation proved that the role of local community assistants is highly needed and they provided extremely helpful insights, contributing to the success of the programmes. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the work of community assistants became even more essential. Since the other employees of the Association could only reach the community online, all personal communication with the families, along with the distribution of donations was done through the local assistants.

Despite the initial success, due to the novelty of the positions within both the Association and the community, extra provision was needed to support the community assistants, especially at the start of the programme. Therefore, the Foundation awarded additional funds towards professional mentoring of the local community assistants. Through the provision of mentoring by Partners Hungary Foundation, the capacity, self- confidence and skills development of the local assistants was enhanced. In addition, constructive feedback was provided to the entire organisation making the cooperation of the members smoother.  All in all, through the mentoring, the contribution of local community assistants has become even more effective.

Having witnessed the outstanding results of the pilot programme, the Foundation supported the Community Assistants programme for another three years (2021-2023). The continuation further verified what the pilot initially proved - that the employment of community assistants has truly increased the community embeddedness of the programmes:

•      The community has been informed about different programmes more effectively,

•      Community needs have been better understood,

•      Motivation to participate has increased,

•      Participants have received more personal support.

 Due to personal reasons, there were some changes to the team of community assistants, and over the three-year project period six community members were employed in total. Their tasks have been varied and vital to the efficient operation of the Association.

Responsibilities of the first team:

  1. Supporting the afterschool programme, donation management & person on duty (COVID-19)

  2. Supporting the adult education programme, office management, donation management (COVID-19)

  3. Supporting the Toy Play Hub programme, supporting the organisation in an „expert by experience” role, online community building (COVID-19).

Responsibilities of the current team:

  1. HR, financial administration, supporting the early childhood programme

  2. Supporting the afterschool programme, the summer camps and community events

  3. Supporting the organisation in a local adviser role, administrative tasks related to the afterschool, mobilisation of the local community (esp. related to the refurbishment of the Association’s new home).

There have also been challenges during the implementation of the programme; it took some trial and error to find the right staff structure for the local assistants’ team. However, at the end of this journey, local assistants became integral and essential employees of the Association supporting both the operational and professional work of the organisation.

During this period, Wonderworkshop Association aimed to increase its own funding towards the programme in order to ensure its sustainability after the Foundation’s grant came to an end. The Association is committed to funding the positions over the long-term and it successfully secured funding for 2024. However, there is a need for ongoing fundraising as it is a challenge across the social sector to find funds towards wages.



local community assistants
local community assistants
local community
community assistants