Supporting people with disabilities and creating inclusive public spaces in MostarPublished: Nov 14, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
People with disabilities, along with their neighbours and volunteers, improved a public space in Mostar that serves a group home. Public spaces present a venue for dialogue and creativity by bringing people together around common issues. Mobilising citizens and contributing to the development of civic, cultural, and economic life is the aim of our project Mostar - Spaces to Activate and Rejuvenate.
Aida Džumhur works in a café established by the Association 'Our Kids' in the Vrapčići area of Mostar. She was lucky—it is difficult for people with intellectual disabilities to find jobs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Aida lives in the same building as the café, which is part of a group housing unit. Since 2012, Our Kids has provided care for young people without parental care who are out of institutional care and have nowhere to go. "We provide the youth with housing and life skills, like cooking, cleaning, and budgeting. We help them set up independent life for themselves," says Sunčica Kragulj, a project manager with Our Kids from Mostar.
Today, Aida and her friends are working in the garden of the 'Our Kids' halfway house. They learn gardening, and at the same time, they prepare the place to be open for visitors and guests in the cafe. The City of Mostar owns the building and the yard, so it is a public space where people can meet and enjoy time together. In Mostar, there are not many places like this. The project is supported by the UK Government, which is interested in seeing the city of Mostar develop inclusively and sustainably, and all its communities prosper together. People in Need, Everyday Peace Indicators, and local partner organisations Association Nešto Više, Youth Cultural Center Abrašević, and Local Democracy Agency Mostar, run the project to mobilise citizens and contribute to the development of civic, cultural and economic life of the city.
Public spaces connect local people, even those with disabilities
Public spaces in Mostar belong to all citizens and citizens should participate in their improvement to make them inclusive and valuable.
"Our organisation is complex and with many levels - ecology, greenery and permaculture, rights of persons with disabilities, women and other vulnerable and marginalised groups. We have combined all these activities under this project, and today I am glad to say that we are on the premises of the Association Our Kids," Nikola Bačić, communication officer, explains the role of organisation Nešto Više in the project.
"We are here today to help with the making up of the yard around the building. We cleaned the grounds around the yard and planted some rosemary and lavender. We gathered citizens and the members of the Association to socialise through the work and learn more about taking care of this space to keep it green, beautiful and fragrant," Nikola adds.
'Our Kids' have a lot of plans for the future. "We will apply for a grant to improve public closed spaces. We have one big room that we want to turn into a conference space for events and round tables or workshops. We want to be able to rent it for this purpose in the future," Sunčica Kragulj says.
The project has a unique vision to create social cohesion and integrative engagement between citizens and communities in the city of Mostar by utilising and improving public spaces. It includes mobilising activities for different groups - from youths to activists, to persons with disabilities, and the elderly- to empower them to voice their needs in public spaces and act upon them. Citizens and local authorities will use new skills, tools and mechanisms to address priorities in an inclusive, gender-sensitive, and participatory manner. Grants and investment works are envisaged to support citizens and local self-government to improve and adjust indoor and outdoor public spaces, making them accessible and welcoming to all.
A group of academics and experts gathered by the organisation Everyday Peace Indicators adds another layer to the project. They are working with communities in a bottom-up approach to defining what peace means and what it looks like to measure everyday indicators of prosperous peace in Mostar.
This article has been produced within the project "Mostar - Spaces to Activate and Rejuvenate", funded by the Government of the United Kingdom. The views expressed in this article are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Government of the United Kingdom.