PAHRCA – Participatory Action Human Rights and Capability Approach (Vulnerable citizens as co-researchers on social policies in Europe) by The Open Network for Community Development Foundation

This method was developed within ‘Rebuilding an Inclusive, Value-based Europe of Solidarity and Trust through Social Investments’ – RE-InVEST project.

Re-InVEST project involved 19 organisations (13 universities and 6 NGO’s – universities, research centres and civil society organisations working with vulnerable groups). The Open Network for Community Development Foundation (Romania) was one of the partner NGOs in the project representing Romania. The ambition of the Re-InVEST project (2015-2019) was to contribute to strengthening the philosophical as well as the institutional and empirical underpinnings of the SIP – European Pillar of Social Rights – with a view to fostering a more inclusive Europe.

It draws on capability and human rights-based participatory approaches to enable the voice of the vulnerable express how the EU Social Investment Package can be strengthened.

Our collective studies critically investigated the impact of the financial crisis on vulnerable groups, their experiences of the labour market and social protection and their experiences of social investment or disinvestment in social services as well as the marketization of that social investment.


Target group

By researcher’s (HIVA Leuven institute) together with a social organization umbrella (Beweging Belgium).

Beneficiaries: Different vulnerable groups; policy makers from each country; researcher’s and their departments from 13 Universities; EU representatives from Horizon 2020.

The age range of the beneficiaries:

    18-24 years old, 25-34 years old, 35-44 years old, 45-54 years old, 55-64 years old, 65-74 years old, 75 years or older

Impact achieved

a. Building dialogue between research and society
– exactly this is the method.

b. Co-creation of new knowledge
– yes, it’s a new ‘merging knowledge’ between 3 parts: vulnerable groups, researchers and NGOs representants.

c. Creating positive impact in society
– yes, through a bottom-up approach.

d. Empower citizens to contribute by expressing their real needs and problem
– yes, through an open dialogue.

e. Another
– giving to involved citizens a VOICE.

Number of beneficiaries who have learnt the method through the project: Over 6000 (taking into account the students from partners universities).

Measurement tool: In achieving all project indicators.


This is a Scie-Citizen Smart Practice

This project links society and science because “The research itself; all events in which we put together vulnerable people and researcher’s (more than 30 events in all project time line).”

Participants are involved in applying the method in their community/peer group since “- The method is an empowerment for the participating citizens.
– Each NGOs or each institution can use it for a real assessment regarding a need and the possibility of resolving the situation.”



Achieved potential to fullfill Scie-Citizen project smart practice:


Technical table:

First time the method has been applied2016 – In Re-Invest project (from the beginning of the project)
Times the method has been iteratedMore than 10 times
Duration of the implementation process for each application of the methodSpeaking about trust between vulnerable citizens and researchers (through NGOs help) around 3 month for each intervention.
Geographical coverage of the method: What’s the context you can apply the method?National – We implemented specific in 3 regions of Romania (South-West in Berbesti; Central in Dumitresti, Vrancea County and West in Timis County). And at International level – all partners – at EU level.
Is there any other organisation applying or adapting the method?Yes
Can you describe shortly how other organisations might adapt or have already adapted the method?Each partner used the method in absolute different context. The vulnerable group was different from country to country (In Romania we work with migrants and Roma people; in Austria they work with unemployed women over 50’s, in Ireland they work with homeless people; in Scotland they work with people with mental health problem, etc). Each partner was using a different space of working (inside of organisations, in hospitals, in Mayor Hall, in a public Conference Centre etc.). Each partner was using different non-formal methods to interact with the vulnerable group and to have a common dialog between citizens and researchers.
In which sectors is this method applicable?Science sector (when you want to do a grass-roots involvement) and Non-governmental sector (when you implement different project for people in need and you want to bring to their expertise and their VOICE to Policy Makers).
What are the goals you achieve with the method?A constructive dialog between all parts involved. A real understanding of the basic needs with a resolution into the Policy level.
How many scientists/researchers you need to perform the method? What is their role?You need at least 2 researchers to have a better view of the analyse because we need a qualitative study into a quantitative research. Moreover, we need the link between the vulnerable groups and the researchers – the NGOs people that build the trust between the 2 parts.
How many non-scientists/researchers you need to perform the method? What is their role?At least 20 participants for a real group of discussions (parts of the vulnerable group). With 20 different persons participation we can develop a qualitative research because each of them is bringing a different perspective (personal and institutional) over a decided before topic.
How long has it take to have first results/ effects noticeable?3 months when the group into the research do not know each other and do not know the researchers; 1 month if the group are beneficiaries of the NGOs from different before projects.
How would you define the process of your project?Co–creation: This method was build-it up into the project time. It is a co-working method between Researchers, vulnerable people and NGOs representatives. It’s not the method of someone or somebody… it’s a method of the project made it by all 19 institutional partners, by all community participants involved in qualitative case studies and by all NGO, s that even if they were not partners, they were asked by the Universities to facilitate the dialogue.
How does the documentation of the results look like?All documents can be downloaded from www.re-invest.eu as Open Sources.
What makes your project innovative?The method that is a new one at the level of social-economical science.
How have you promoted/do you promote your project?– on our web-site www.theopennetwork.ro
– on the project website: http://www.re-invest.eu
– Social media;
– printed materials (flyers, brochures, Annual report);
– Bi-monthly Newsletter.
What are the strengths of your project?The realised dialogue between all parts involved (very hard to realize because of the different used vocabulary: big difference between academic and citizens vocabulary used).
What are the weaknesses of your project?We need ‘social translators’ – NGOs representatives that understand the method and the products of the project to apply them into real life when working with vulnerable groups.
What are the opportunities you can see for your project?Because of this better understanding of the problems of each national vulnerable group, we have a very deep understanding of local situations (national situations) into an EU context.
What are the threats you can see for your project?A high academic level/content – context. Hard to translate into daily life context.
Tell us a success story/anecdote related to your projectAll experts involved into this project are much aware about the migration phenomenon at EU level.

All academic people were very sad when this project was at the final Conference meeting because they said that this collaboration between academic and NGOs work was the hardest but the most beautiful one of their entire lifetime academic job.

4 NGOs from this project apply for a different project at the EU that was approved and this means that the work will continue at NGOs level.


Suggestion, recommendation, feedback?

It’s a very hard method to use because of the different language vocabulary that it is used by different categories of participants, but because of this variety, we came out with very reach out-comes and with new projects ideas.