Sopotniki (cotravellers)

Demographic challenges, Improvement of services / infrastructures, Poverty and social exclusion, Social participation

Sopotniki (meaning: Cotravellers, Fellow Passengers) is an organisation for intergenerational solidarity which was established to help elders from remote rural areas get involved in active social life. Through intergenerational solidarity Sopotniki prevents the state of isolation and loneliness of elderly people from small remote villages, who almost never leave their homes due to remoteness, lack of transport means or poor traffic connections. Sopotniki provides a free transport service enabling elders to attend cultural events, visit friends, go to the doctor, go shopping etc. In this way they can run their errands independently and carefree as well as make new acquaintances and keep social contacts with the wider environment, which would otherwise be out of reach.
The service of Sopotniki operates in partnerships with local municipalities. Upon establishing a new local unit, the NGO provides all the needed infrastructure (a local coordinator, cars, ICT infrastructure, trainings, mentorship etc.), while transport is carried out by volunteer drivers. The cost of service is covered mainly by the municipalities and partially by sponsors or donors. With this cost distribution, the service is free of charge and thus available even to the socially weakest elders.
The organisation Sopotinik has developed a dedicated application for bookings that allows fleet management and generates all the necessary statistics (number of new and returning users, number of kilometers, rides, phone calls, volunteer hours etc). The work is organized by a smart, ICT supported volunteer system and the volunteer network includes job-seekers, young people, self-employed individuals and active pensioners.
The interest in the project is increasing, as other regions are facing similar issues. At the moment they are operational in 11 Slovene municipalities, with over 900 regular users and about 100 volunteers.

Training / Teaching, Services delivery, Public participation, Support (Technical, legal, etc.)
Local social work centres, local businesses, and volunteers

– Prolonging the elders’ ability to live at their home (outside of professional institutions) improving independence
– Activation of passive rural population – higher rate of participation in addressing local communities’ problems,
– Positive response to the project, with 7 new units opened in 2018.
– Added value of the Sopotniki solution is the intergenerational interaction. Users and volunteers chat and share their experiences and knowledge during the transport, which builds trust and respect generations.

* Information at the level of NUTS 3 or local regions.