“Surprise”– Lucky-break jobs:

When the door to the future opens

Swiss Life’s Perspectives Foundation donates approximately CHF 1 million per year to support charitable initiatives, focusing particularly on integration and education. In 2010, for example, the Foundation provided a financial boost for the Surprise Association’s “Lucky-break job” project.

Since 1997 Surprise has been helping people who have fallen on hard times to draw on their own resources and reduce their need for outside help. The non-profit-making institution based in Basel runs integration projects in the fields of work, sport and culture. The Surprise Association finances its operations by selling its magazine “Surprise” on the street and through donations and contributions from foundations and companies.

“Surprise” is the leading Swiss street magazine. Appearing every two weeks and characterised by the high quality of its journalism, it is sold almost exclusively on the streets. The 300 or so street vendors are all socially marginalised and unable to enter the jobs market. Their work for “Surprise” enables them to structure their day, to regain self-confidence and to earn a modest wage through their own efforts. For many of them this constitutes the first step back into society and gives them hope of leading a normal working life again. For a number of its people, Surprise has created part-time “lucky-break jobs” that pay them enough to live on. In this way, Surprise is taking effective action to combat poverty and social exclusion in Switzerland, and Swiss Life’s Perspectives Foundation is supporting them financially in their endeavours.

“Lucky-break jobs” with “Surprise” open up new perspectives:

– Without any training or notable job experience but with a stack of serious personal and social problems, Mr S. became a street vendor for Surprise. Despite some setbacks, he steadily gained stability through the new experience of a clearly structured day. After a year of this activity, he was offered a part-time “lucky-break job” at the Surprise sales office in Basel. There, financial support, coaching by the Surprise team and flexible working hours enabled him to embark on commercial training. He has already gained his diploma in office management and is about to finish a business diploma course. Having left Surprise and the “lucky-break job” programme, Mr S. now has a “real” commercial job in the Basel region.

– Mr B. is 56 years old and has a “lucky-break job” in Surprise’s sales organisation and on-site services. Even in a phase of great personal adversity when beset by ill health and family problems, he always worked reliably with good will and a sense of responsibility. The realistic and measurable annual objectives he was given formed a structure that provided incentive and support. Although his overall situation is not yet stable and long-term financial independence is not yet within his reach, he has made unmistakable progress.

– Ms K. has been selling “Surprise” for a long time. She lived from that and occasional part-time cleaning jobs. As the years went by, the 54-year-old gradually found the harder cleaning jobs too strenuous. For just over a year, Ms K. has been preparing lunch once a week for the Surprise team. Together with her sales of “Surprise”, this “lucky-break job” provides her with a secure regular income that she can live on without claiming supplementary state benefits.

Mr B.: gaining stability and hope