Second International Meeting of East Social Network in Vidin
On March 29, 2016 in the city hall of Vidin a international meeting of East Social Network was held. The forum was organized by National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO-Bulgaria) through its representation in Vidin – Support for Realization Foundation with the support of the local authorities of Vidin and in partnership with Dobro Drvo Association, Zaichar Initiative Foundation, Red Cross-Zaichar and Rotary Club-Zaichar. Wide spectrum of participants – representatives of local authorities from the district, specialists and teams of social services, non-governmental organizations, volunteers and employers attended the meeting.
Mr. Ventsi Paskov, deputy mayor of Vidin and Ms. Petia Markova, NASO coordinator, welcomed the participants and thanked for their interest. The main purpose of today’s meeting is a practical presentation of NASO mission, pointed out Ms. Markova. That is to combine, motivate and support the possibilities and efforts of profit and non-profit legal entities, municipalities, municipal and regional bodies and organizations by providing national and international partnership and participation in the establishment and implementation of socially responsible behavior, policies and activities. The meeting is second for the last two years – already marked by many joint events in the cross-border area between Bulgaria and Servia, should establish the grounds of a platform for communication, exchange of good practice and piloting innovative decisions and initiatives between organizations and authorities working in the social sector. Ms. Markova outlined in short the latest activities and initiatives of NASO, including the forthcoming national forums – on April 13 and 14 in Veliko Turnovo and from June 8 to 10 in Varna. She also presented the extremely important topics to be discussed during these events and which are leading in 2016 NASO work – the legislation changes for social services, deinstitutionalization of adult services, new laws on social economy and entrepreneurship, employment for persons with disabilities and other groups in need.
Mr. Paskov thanked NASO for initiating this meeting and opening the possibility of partnership establishment. He also expressed his conviction and understanding that collaborating and gathering of all responsible parties indeed is the pre-condition for a successful social policy that is adequate with the needs of people. Mr. Paskov outlined the current picture of social services in Vidin whereas 90% are provided by non-governmental organizations. The leading understanding of Vidin authorities is that the NGO sector has the necessary capacity and expertise for qualitative services and effective results with users as well as the flexibilities and initiative needed to attract additional resources to support persons in need.
Mr. Dusko Preshic of Dobro Drvo Foundation represented the joint initiatives with Support for Realization Foundation realized during the last years. They’re directed to support for social inclusion for different target groups – children and youths with disabilities, social services users, citizens and guests of Vidin and Zaichar. All initiatives were carried out without any projects and had low-cost budgets which funding was provided by business sector representatives, Rotary and Lions clubs for both cities. Regardless the low-cost budgets an extremely positive social effect was reported. It was firmly concluded that high funding or projects are not a necessary pre-condition for socially oriented initiatives.
The meeting continues with a spontaneous discussion whereas the participants presented their activity and pointed out part of the achievements to be proud with as well as the challenged they’re facing in their work. The problems with the parents of children using social services, children without parental control with parents working abroad, insufficient opportunities for providing support services to some users, deficiency of social specialists in the smaller locations and their turnover, capacity overload of some services were some of the shared common issues. Some of the participants shared that the unemployment rate in the region is above the average for the country. In this relation, the desire of developing social enterprises would contribute for new openings on one side and on another – would give an opportunity for full social inclusion and provide employment for people in need. When considering the opportunities for social enterprises and employment, as well as developing work skills for people in need, Mr. Kolyo Nikolov, a representative of the Regional Crafts Chamber reminded the participants the position of traditional crafts.
The discussion logically shifted to matters related with the funding possibilities under the operative programmes. Ms. Mariela Slavova, Director of Regional Information Centre – Vidin presented different models of social entrepreneurship, good practices for corporate social responsibility and funding possibilities.
Following the official closing of the meeting, the participants visited the Regional Crafts Chamber. The discussion on the social entrepreneurship and the corporate social responsibility continued in the Center for Social Rehabilitation and Integration, managed by the Support for Realization Foundation whereas the Serbian partners were mainly interested in the current legislation changes in Bulgaria, the experience and models for partnership and business inclusion in social sector initiatives. The common conclusion was that such meetings to exchange experience and know-how are extremely useful and NASO will continue their realization in future too, according to NASO Annual Program.