A study visit in the framework of the project SOCIETIES has been organized in Bulgaria, from 18-23 June by Caritas Bulgaria.
Project SOCIETIES aims at helping the associations of civil society to strengthen their capacities and provide them with financial support for the implementation of the local initiatives that would contribute to a better social inclusion of persons with disabilities and mental disorders in South-Eastern Europe. Key element of the planned programme of capacity building are the study visits in the countries of European Union.
That’s why a study visit to Bulgaria was organized during which the participants had the opportunity to see in practice the functioning of the system of social support to persons with disabilities and mental difficulties that is based on community-oriented services and social enterprises. In addition, Bulgaria was selected as the country of South-Eastern Europe that went through the accession process to join the EU several years ago and therefore represents an important example for the CSOs from 5 countries of South-Eastern Europe that are still to go through this process.
During 5 days of this study visit, 20 participants had the opportunity to visit several Day Centers for children and adults with disabilities, Half-Way Houses and other types of refuges, various Work-and-Occupational Centers, Social-Rehabilitation Centers and Integration Centers. Through these visits, the participants have deepened their knowledge on the ways of organizing these services along with the experiences and practices of the CSOs that act in the EU.
In addition, the participants had the opportunity to visit several examples of social enterprises among which a notable example is the association that provides a service of online translations to the sign language for persons with hearing impairment and the laundry led by persons with mental difficulties.
Participants were exposed to concrete experiences that could help them in their future actions, and they could witness first-hand the positive and negative sides of the system of social support in Bulgaria and get the information about what a pre-EU accession process brought to the CSOs of particularly vulnerable categories in Bulgaria.
Project SOCIETIES is implemented by 16 partner organizations in 5 countries of South-Eastern Europe and led by the Caritas network. The planned duration of the project is until the end of 2019 and the project is funded by the funds of EU in the framework of programme of Support to Regional and Thematic Networks of CSOs.