REGISTER YOUR CITY, REGION OR NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pej?inovi? Buri?, has issued a toolkit for governments across Europe on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Toolkit (available in several languages)
Learning from experiences is a challenge, which is even more difficult on digital way at the time of COVID-19. The Hungarian Best Practices of Local Governments 2020 program successfully completed its annual program cycle in 2020 on 25th of November 2020 with the final competition of presentation. You can find here detailed information on best practices against COVID from Hungarian local governments.
Results of Hungarian Best Practices of Local Governments 2020 program
Best practices in fighting against COVID-19
Learning from experiences is a challenge, which is even more difficult on digital way at the time of COVID-19. The Hungarian Best Practices of Local Governments 2020 program successfully completed its annual program cycle in 2020 on 25th of November 2020 with the final competition of presentation.
The Local Government Best Practice Program has been run by the Hungarian National Association of Local Authorities (TÖOSZ) and with the cooperation of the Local and Regional Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform of the Council of Europe since 2008.
In 2020 – in the same manner of cooperation as in previous years –the Ministry of Interior, e-Democracy Foundation, Ministry of Human Capacities, Homo Oecologicus Foundation, Ministry of Innovation and Technologies, Hungarian Village Association, Hungarian Association of Municipalities, Hungarian National Association of Civic Guards, and as new members the Association of Small Towns and Association for Safety and Liveable Towns took part in the implementation. The local governments could apply with their innovative, well-functioning good practices which could be adapted in other municipalities as well. In this year 27 applications were received from 9 counties and the capital of the country. After the written assessments, the members of Expert Panel and Steering Committee had online video meetings as “site visits” because of the pandemic situation were impossible with the 19 applicants from the short list. The experiences of the virtual site visits were included in this introduction. All of the relevant best practices were great without exception. There were local governments, which organized on-site video streaming from different local institutions, or invited local stakeholders for example SMEs and they shared their experiences with the representatives of the program. We had the opportunity to talk to inspiring and dedicated municipal professionals, for which we would like to thank them on behalf of the program managers.
The following results were born in the four topics (with link to the presentation in English. Those without link have not used presentations, only videos during the conference). You can find than the summaries of the best practices.
Best practices in the field of fighting against poverty
First Prize Eger City Innovative community-based crisis management in support of social integration (1700000 HUF and possibility for participation of 6 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ/ 2 days workshops
Second Prize: Budapest XIII. District „You are not alone, call the Previ Studio!”, (1200000 HUF and possibility for participation of 4 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Best practices of public safety
First Prize: Arló Let's do something together for local public safety (1000000 HUF and possibility for participation of 6 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Second Prize: Kunsziget For the safety of Kunsziget in this challenging new situation ((800000 HUF and possibility for participation of 4 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Third Prize: Budapest XIII. District We will not leave you without a word! (500000 HUF and possibility for participation of 2 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Best practices of elderly care
First Prize: Nyíregyháza The role and importance of social benefits in elderly care (Cooperation between the local equity care fee and the home care system in Nyíregyháza) (900000 HUF and possibility for participation of 6 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Second Prize: Kozármisleny For the protection of our elderly –Emergency working group in Kozarmisleny (700000 HUF and possibility for participation of 4 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Third Prize: Alsómocsolád New ways to good quality of life in old age (450000 HUF and possibility for participation of 2persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Best practices of innovation
First Prize: Szada World Day of Light in Szada- the municipality and civilians together for the community in difficult situations (900000 HUF and possibility for participation of 6 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Second Prize: Budapest XV. District An innovative digital assistance platform during the COVID-19 epidemic (700000 HUF and possibility for participation of 4 persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Third Prize: Budapest IV. District Animal Rescue League in Újpest, especially during the emergency (450000 HUF and possibility for participation of 2persons at Change management knowledge program of TÖOSZ)
Special prize was given to Eger City based on the votes of the audience.
Eger is one of the dynamically developing Hungarian cities, has a population of 55,843, and is the second most populous city in Northern Hungary.
The starting point was the community development process that had begun earlier, which strengthened the community so that they had a better chance of overcoming the problems caused by the COVID-19 virus. People in the Sala district have had problems switching to digital education, narrowing social contacts, meeting compulsory schooling requirements, tackling their daily living tasks and being prevented from accessing available services.
Community-based solutions were organized, the central element of which is the SZATECS - Group of Actors for Szala - who, during regular municipal meetings, established a continuously functioning Professional Team that could effectively develop new solutions to the crisis situation. Participants of the Professional Team became the municipality with the heads of the specialized offices; the SZATECS, the child welfare institutions, the Károly Eszterházy University, the Roma Vocational College of Eger, the police and non-governmental organizations, who started a new, community-based complex problem solving.
The innovative, complex community-based crisis management started immediately during the declaration of the emergency, a meeting was convened with the management of SZATECS, the management of the Eger Roma Vocational College and the municipality, and the development of the strategy started.
The following activities have been implemented in good practice of support of innovative community-based social inclusion:
-visiting families, assessing needs (SZATECS experience experts);
-motivating and involving families in learning support activities (SZATECS experience experts);
-assessment of the needs and purchase of ICT tools (child welfare institutions);
-coordination of fundraising (child welfare institutions, SZATECS experience experts);
-organizing support for older people with the introduction of the Favor Service (SZATECS, child welfare institutions);
-study support (members of the Eger Roma Vocational College);
-coordination of discussions (municipality, Eger Roma Vocational College).
Partial results are already visible, with more than 10 children being tutored online who have successfully completed their studies, thus preventing early school leaving. In addition to supporting children’s learning, university students demonstrated on supervision that they were also successful in positively changing families ’attitudes toward school. Parents accepted the help and encouraged their children to participate in the tutoring. Contrary to previous experience, the distribution of donations was much less tense. 161 families living in segregated areas came to the attention of the Family and Child Welfare Service based on the incoming alerts, which required benefits in kind, of which 94 families were reached with the help of SZATECS, which meant 341 persons.
Supervision and professional support of the students' invested work - the Eger Roma Vocational College undertook to perform mentoring tasks without reimbursement. The value of the donation packages amounted to approximately HUF 500,000. The donations came mainly from charities and NGOs. The human resources of the good practice were the specialists of the child welfare institutions, SZATECS, the Professional Team, the lecturers of the Eger Roma Vocational College.
Almost 120,000 inhabitants live in Budapest Capital District XIII, making the district the third most populous administrative unit in Budapest and the eighth most populous municipality in the country. The municipality has been committed to creating equal opportunities for all since 1995. Following the first registered case of the coronavirus epidemic in Hungary, all local government institutions and companies immediately started preparing a series of measures to ensure the continuity of municipal public services, especially for the key target groups of the equal opportunities program.
With the rethinking of the existing services of the Prevention Center, the "You are not alone: call Previ Studio!" project that was available 24 hours a day via computer and mobile app.
The elements of the project:
- Distribution of donations (donations from 8 companies and 26 individuals were distributed to families, 43 laptops, desktops, smart phones; 182 food packages);
-Organization of meal provisions (assistance was provided to 59 children and regularity was ensured) through regular contact (398 children, young people were reached directly);
-On-demand mentoring in digital education;
- Music request show based on requests from young people at home;
-Informal discussion on emergency issues;
-Leisure activities: poetry and storytelling on application, creation of sound games and group games on the Internet, organization of interactive activities.
The project gained a lot of popularity in a short time, the Studio of the Prevention Center received calls from early morning to night by young people from disadvantaged families, most of whom they had met as part of previous family support work, who were happy and creatively involved in joint information creation, cooperation and recreation.
Magdolna Karácsonyi, deputy CEO of the District said the Prevention Center provided support for 402 children and 616 adults. Their professionals moved the constant attention and organization of support to the virtual space. The technical equipment of the Previ Studio operating in the Prevention Center allowed the project to be launched quickly without delay after minimal equipment acquisition, review and targeted grouping of available forces and equipment: it was announced on the second day after the idea was born.
During the epidemic, telephone conversations with the target group took place 471 times. In connection with the project, the Previ Studio was reached 7,572 times online by members of the target audience. The implementation of the project did not require additional resources, the program was attended by employees of municipal institutions, who considered it their duty to work in this new way during the emergency.
Arló is located in one of the most disadvantaged micro-regions, the population is aging and the number of children with special educational needs is increasing. A civil guard association has been operating in the settlement since 2008. It resulted in sometimes improving and sometimes stagnant tendency of police statistics. The work of the association and the close cooperation with the local government have already received several national and county-level recognitions.
When the emergency was declared in the spring of 2020, local special rules had to be ordered in Arló in addition to those specified in the government decrees. This was obviously primarily the responsibility of the police, but the continued presence of a civil guard contributed to this. When the legislation provided for the possibility of imposing stricter rules, immediate action was taken to protect the public, for example, special rules were introduced in the resort area on weekends, which were also promulgated and enforced by the association as soon as possible. Public patrols have been multiplied, as pedestrians, cyclists, horsemen and motorists. For delivering payments through post at the beginning of the month, the members of the association served alongside the postmen to ensure that residents adhered to the rules of keeping social distance.
Based on public demand, as a result of cooperation, the local civil guard of the Kunsziget village was established in 1998, assisted by the moral and financial support of local government of Kunsziget and the population of the village. Members of the elected body considered it important to participate in the activities of the association.
As a result of two decades of cooperation, the safety and security of the settlement and the region is constantly increasing. At the time of the emergency, the civil guard and the local government were looking for alternative solutions to keep the jobs; and they provided protective equipment and disinfectants. They ensured the operation of health and commercial care systems, monitored compliance with the time restrictions on shopping, reduced public stays, and helped the elderly and those in need. The generations cooperated in their work, created the conditions for a restart, ensured a permanent presence, gathered problems, formed groups for the solution (health, business, mental health), and contributed to the preservation of a positive value system. Police statistics show that the number of crimes is low and that the decline has been steady over the last 5 years and that the population is also satisfied.
It is a good public safety practice of the XIII District Municipality that street, housing estate and youth protection social workers can play an important role in the emergency situation in cooperation with the members of the local civil protection organization, forming a special working group. Based on the professional consultations, in addition to the specific activities of the police and the public space inspector, the local government's public security officer and appointed senior staff, together with young activists of the local civic organization, street social workers and housing social assistants, defined and carried out tasks that helped to prevent the spread of the virus and to prevent undesirable phenomena related to the epidemic situation. Before the compilation of the plan for the special social workers working as pedestrians, with scooters and bicycle in time and space was preceded an analysis of street habits of vulnerable target groups, the inventory of priority public areas, important public institutions, and the development of optimal route plans.
The members of the established “We will not leave you without a word!” working group reacted quickly to the changes. Their tasks were: to inform the public, to create an online interface; emphasizing the importance of staying at home; warning those who break the rule; informing law enforcement authorities in case of events endangering public security; compliance with the new rules related to the reopening of public spaces, parks and playgrounds at the same time as the restriction rules are relaxed and eliminated; safe use of the services of economic operators (shops, stores, restaurants, restaurant terraces) helping people to comply with regulations.
Nyíregyháza is the seat of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, a dynamically developing city. The economic and cultural engine of the region, its population is 116,799 people, the proportion of people over 60 is 24%.
In addition to providing basic social services, the municipality has launched several initiatives that can serve as good practice for other municipalities as well. Among the cash benefits, it provides a local equity care fee primarily for those caring for their older relatives. It is not obligatory for the municipality to provide this support, but their goal is to provide care for older people for as long as possible. Home-based social care is available in Nyíregyháza; however, for those families where they take care of an older person in need of long-term care, the local government offers care allowance for the caregiver. The condition for the support is that the person attends a 16-hour and a 8-hour long training organized by the municipal institution providing home-based social care. The purpose of this program is to impart basic knowledge to caregivers (recipients of care allowance). The long years spent caring obviously result in a lot of practical nursing knowledge for the caregivers. At the same time, it is important to teach theoretical knowledge, present tools that can be used during nursing, receive information about benefits, and last but not least, provide mental help. Meeting peers, being away from home, etc. has a positive effect on the caregivers.
The pandemic period has also shown that caring for the elderly in their homes is extremely important. In 2019, 278 people received a local care allowance. HUF 75 million is set aside in the local government budget to cover the local care allowance. Professionals perform the tasks performed in the training during working hours, it does not mean additional costs. The local care allowance provided by the local government relieves the burden on the social services system by allowing families to take care of their older relatives for as long as possible. As life expectancy increases, there is an increasing need for long-term care, and families do not really ask for outside help on their own.
Kozármisleny is a small town of 6,000 people in Baranya county. As the pandemic appeared in the spring, the mayor immediately formed the Kozármisleny Emergency Working Group (KVM) to protect the elderly in the City of Kozármisleny. The KVM defined in 5 points its interventions: with regard to the kindergarten, nursery school, primary school, child catering, the companies majority-owned by the city cooperating in the maintenance of the city and, in particular, the care of the elderly over the age of 65 in Kozármisleny.
Their goal was to support the staying at home of the elderly and to organize their care. The KVM is made up of municipal workers, home carers, a nurse service, members of a civic guard association and a number of dedicated volunteers. The chairman of the Social Committee and a member of the Social Committee have drawn up the exact rules of procedure. A home delivery service was introduced that lasted until the crisis was over. Requests could be submitted electronically and by telephone. The services included not only the provision of hot food, but the purchase of medications and basic foodstuffs. In addition, the working group has tried to satisfy all other needs in a short time, when necessary, it provided a washing machine and bought hearing aids. They also informed the population in detail about their services on flyers, websites and Facebook.
Kozármisleny was the first city in Hungary where the local government organized the screening of local population by purchasing 2,000 rapid COVID tests, with partial funding from the local government. The elderly were allowed to participate in the testing in accordance with the hygiene regulations and recommendations, in order to prevent possible further mass infections and to take measures to immediately isolate the people with positive test-results.
The working group works closely with the Sworn Field Watchmen Service, Municipal Development Ltd., the Civil Guard and social organizations in order to effectively help the population at all levels.
The estimated total budget total was HUF 16,899,137 net, which was covered by the transfer of the general reserve and the retail subsidy received on the account of the Virus Protection Fund. Financial support was received for the rapid test screening of people in need. In addition, many entrepreneurs offered eat potatoes, onions and masks. In addition to municipal and related institutional staff (42 people), 37 volunteers contributed to the implementation of these activities.
826 older people was reached with help of volunteers
Making tests, making tests, making tests…The first Hungarian city, which organized the entirely COVID-test of its population is Kozármisleny.
The epidemic changed the lives of the older people of Alsómocsolád and the workers of the “Autumn Light” Nursing Home, forcing their daily lives to adhere to strict rules and frameworks to protect them. Their good practice is characterized by professional work along infection control rules, a wide range of prevention activities, a high level of collaboration between the elderly and their employees, volunteering, prioritizing individual and group mental activities and programs, and the widespread using of digital (online) tools. As a result of the good practice, despite the lockdown caused by Covid-19 - no curfews and visits - and preventive restrictions, in addition to no physical illness, the elderly were able to stay balanced, adapt more easily and end this period with positive feelings. Besides physical health, it was important to support and strengthen online contacts, intergenerational and family relationships. There were regular weekly and daily tournaments, daily walks and programs in the park of the institution, use of the gym and its existing equipment (fitness equipment, massage equipment, light therapy lamps), application of BEMER therapy. There were online dietitian consultations where seniors could also express their needs and opinions. Recreational opportunities were provided by music therapy, tea parties, afternoon with films.
Their mental health and activity plans remained unchanged, tailored to the thematic plan: Monday - Play Day, Tuesday - Literature Day, Wednesday - Creative Day, Thursday - Memorial and Memory Development Day, Friday - Music and Song Day. Conversations to help those with dementia have been put more in focus, and the mental care of their isolated elderly people has also been prioritized. They organized several community programs: regular creative and craft classes, online poetry and storytelling competitions, sending videos, joint baking, flower planting, making hearts in the windows of the institution. They paid more attention to the regularity of weekly prayer classes, with which they sought to strengthen and support the spiritual faith of their residents. It has become more important to hold common holidays (family members were also involved with online birthday greetings). All employees (from cleaners to senior management) took their share of mental support and audition. They have used the language of love: quality time with their elders, small gifts and attentions, kind gestures, words of appreciation. They made books of life: they collected memories and wrote together in books, through which they made their life stories in book form, sharing their thoughts and feelings with their family members. They began creating a painting on the wall of the common room, a “Tree of Life - soul bird”, and began to create a nostalgia room. Employees were regularly provided with little acts of kindness, joint team-building stress relief techniques, and online supervision.
Today, the majority of the more than 5,000 inhabitants of the large village of Szada are newly settled families, who mostly commute between their place of residence and work, so they do not have many opportunities to make contact. The settlement has a Mayor’s Office with a small number of staff, who provide the compulsory tasks and services of the local government.
They can rely on active and creative residents who are eager to help, and it is also an important goal for them to work together to make it good to live there. At the same time, they recognized that in order for ideas to come true, it is crucial that every idea has a responsible owner who, through decisions and coordination of the implementation team, gets the dreams all the way to the goal. For this, the methodology was given, the necessary decisions were made, and support was provided.
As a result of all this, the celebration of the World Day of Light on 16 May 2020 was such a dream come true, with which - the only one in Hungary - they were placed on the international map of the event.
Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Szada with key stakeholders in the project during the online on-site inspection of the program
The precise definition of the problem, the search for the solution, and the creation of the strategy also took place in the framework of a workshop involving local, active residents, where a structure was created with which the creative ideas can be delivered to the implementation. This is a general structure in which the management of any new innovation idea can be incorporated.
Within the framework of this structure - the creation and operation of so-called small projects - a small project was launched on the basis of its principles, which, in turn, was implemented entirely by citizens, but with the supportive attitude of the local government. According to the jointly developed project rules of procedure, the project was designed and implemented by the civil society, which resulted in an event on 16 May 2020.
The greatest exemplary result of good practice is clearly the highly effective involvement of the local population, in which the use of social media has been a key element. A decisive element was to reach and making the target group committed, because then we can involve them. This was served by different games in the community: a call for mosaic images, a drawing competition for children, a photo call around the world of lights, a letter game with a prize. And moving out of the online space brought an incredible amount of public involvement by placing painted pebbles in doorways, mailboxes, which the population itself spread by getting more people involved in pebble paintings and placing them to the surprise of acquaintances and strangers. People have waited already for these hearty, lettering or eye-catching stones, making almost the whole of Szada tuned in to celebrate together the World Day of Light on May 16, 2020.
The World Day of Light event was realized thanks to sponsors from Szada and the region, with a budget of HUF 595,000. The financial resources were provided by the local government and a very serious investment of human resources by the volunteer team of 13 persons made it possible to achieve the results.
The 15th District of Budapest is the 7th largest district of the capital with 78,000 inhabitants. About 25% of its residents are over the age of 60, who have been provided with a wide range of assistance above shopping, purchase of food and medication, and other problems after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The Municipality of the 15th District embarked on this new, modern path when it launched a three-unit assistance platform with a website - https://segitunk.bpxv.hu/ -, an e-mail address: segitseg@ bpxv.hu and a toll-free green number: +36 80203804.
Planning, development, information and assistance were the main activities. The design was planned jointly and then the developer took over this task. The development was clearly the responsibility of the developer, while the assistance was organized by the Department of Welfare and Institutional Maintenance of the Mayor's Office together with the social institution of the district. Informing the population and stakeholders was the responsibility of the Mayor's Cabinet.
The result is basically a system of tools that is accessible 24 hours a day for all those in need to make their report free and fast, on the basis of which assistance can be organized. And the result is roughly 500 purchases a week and dozens of emergency aid applications submitted in a simplified way.
The development was implemented from own, local government resources of HUF 10 million + VAT. The total need for resources is invaluable, as more than 200 people were involved in the assistance.
It is planned to continue the practice, but at the same time in such a way that the services are expanded and the interfaces created can be used not only for assistance, but also for organizing businesses (digital district card) and other types of notifications.
The biggest challenge was making extremely fast decisions. It was necessary to involve several operation areas, which could not be done in full due to lack of time. Considering agile design and development methodologies, their goal was to make the good practice usable as soon as possible. Based on the comments of their specialties, which came later due to the increased performance of other municipal tasks because of the epidemic, they improved the product in several rounds. The aim is to manage the services for the citizens of the District, making them faster, easier, with less administration and greater transparency, and to reduce the workload for the local government. In the implementation of good practice, this endeavour has been embraced by several within the local government, they feel that the general human resentment about the “new” has diminished. A good example can results wonders! - believe the leaders of the program.
Budapest Capital District IV, the Local Government of Újpest, with 96,000 inhabitants, considers the importance to incorporate new and innovative methods and environmental awareness into the daily activities of the district. It was established in Újpest, and to this day Hungary's first Animal Welfare Service is active, where a police officer and a detective also serve as animal rescuers. The Animal Rescue League, the Újpest Municipality and the Police jointly established Hungary's first Animal Welfare Guard Service in 2013, which is continuously serving and staying in the public area. It assists with reports of ill-treatment, participates in joint on-site inspections, and assists the work of the police in the case of crimes of animal torture. It carries out animal rescue, free veterinary transport and checks the area of dog runners, compliance with the rules there.
At the time of the epidemic, the Animal Rescue League changed its place and everything was purchased for safe rescue, even a disinfection gate was set up. The daily needs of the pets of the elderly and hospitalized people were met by their volunteers: they walked the dogs in a non-contact form, fed, watered, and provided any supplies for the animals; their health care was also performed. All benefits were provided free of charge to the animal keepers.
Special information stickers were produced so that the authorities would have information if they had to enter a property due to a coronavirus epidemic, what animals were present on the site and in what numbers; thereby also helping their work. 1020 calls were received during the epidemic. The public was informed through a local newspaper, local TV, commercial TV, leaflets and internet media. Their financial resources consist of 1% of the taxes offered and the amount of the annual grant agreement concluded with the Municipality of Újpest (HUF 6 million). They work with 17 volunteers, 5 trucks and an electric car, 2 computers, 2 printers, 2 phone numbers (one is a free tip line).
There are animal welfare organizations in every settlement. With cooperation agreements and grants with local authorities, an organization dedicated to the protection of animals and nature could be implemented anywhere. The animal protection cooperation implemented in Újpest could be a good practice that can be realized in many other settlements as well. To this end, they are also happy to share their professional and practical experience with those interested.