The Pensioners’ Association (Pécs) was founded in 1989. At that period a lot of former miners, industrial workers lost their workplace as rapid privatization and effectivity problems caused closing many local companies. A large ratio of these people had some health effects, illnesses, even disabilities – and many among them were living single, or widowed, etc. These “new pensioners” needed a lot of social, legal and psychological support: the Association was formed to serve these needs in the local community. Today the Association runs various activities as it now integrates smaller-larger volunteer sub-organizations around:
- health-care and –prevention; awareness about ageing problems, typical illnesses, and preventive caring consumer protection issues; crime prevention especially for singles and elders; public safety issues, cases (training, discussions, raising awareness);
- family life, inter-generation problems, support and prevention of troubles;
- an innovative “Senior Academy (Népfőiskola)”, a series of expert lectures targeting elder age group to get together regularly and form new communities (today a 15th year of founding, 6-7 events per annum, 60-80 participants);
- messages, discussion and support to local decision makers (e.g. the public representatives, bodies) about problems of elders in the vicinity;
- leisure-time activities, entertainment, cultural activities targeting this age group (from hand-made clothing to dancing, choirs, excursions, etc.): fostering more community life and activities for these people.
Pécs has about 40 thousands of pensioners living in the city. The Association has appr. 1,100 registered members. Today 31 separately working “clubs” form the organization cooperating and collaborating. Some of them were initiated by interest groups (like dancing, choirs, amateur photo shooting, angling, etc.) while others gather seniors from the closer vicinity, from special quarters of the city. Typical, well-working groups are organizing regular meetings, presentations, having hundreds of active members like Baranya Bokréta (dancing), Gardening Friends, Artisans of Traditional Art, National Singing Choir, Miners for Culture, Railroad Worker Pensionists, etc. Unfortunately only very small amounts are available in the budget for regular pieces of training of the members, thus some of the clubs open their activities to outsiders with “free invitation to be trained”. One exception was a short ICT course for those intending to have a part-time job with basic skills to use computer software.
Special attention is given to those members being in a detrimental situation like sudden illnesses, disability, hard social cases. On the other hand there are members who seemingly are ready to have temporary and/or part-time jobs to have a small surplus income: the Association gives legal support, offers contact information and – as a member of a “Pensioners’ Cooperation for Employment” company in Pecs – can give a direct help to have a job locally. Some of the “clubs” have only one-two larger events, others regularly meet weekly or monthly. The Seniors’ Academy lectures are organized centrally, also some free-to-visit concerts, a regular cultural contest for teams, etc. Academy lectures are held by local university experts, professionals from the local schooling system or even by some club members, having special knowledge and presentation skills. Special interest groups are representing the culture of minorities in Pécs (Croatian, Serbian, German, etc.). The clubs are very active at city-organized large cultural events like Days of Pecs, etc.
The leadership of the Association has been successfully building widespread regional and international connections: four neighborhood county-based organizations work together and visit, cooperation is vivid with sister cities in Germany, France, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania. All of these activities offer a colorful and various community life to members and participants can understand and learn everyday life, problems and activities not only local but regional and international pensioners, too.
The Association asks for a small amount of membership fee annually. Administrative work is managed by the elected Presidency and a 5-persons (paid) office (all employed are disabled, subsidized by governmental funds). The budget can be larger if donations arrive or some bids have a success from governmental, regional or EU sources. When these funds are not enough, members pay a basic fee for special activities (like excursions, traveling, etc.). The working of the “Clubs” is managed by appr. 30 volunteer leaders, elected by the members for 2-3 years.