From April 21 to 23, in Sofia, the Fourth National Forum on service for people with disabilities in Bulgaria was held at Grand Hotel Sofia.
The Forum was organized by the National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO), Agency for Social Development-Vision, with the support and partnership of the Flemish authorities, the European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Sofia Municipality.
The Forum is a part of the European project Snowball and the programme of the European Association of Service for People with Disabilities /EASPD/.
Over 100 representatives of municipalities, service provider organizations for people with disabilities in Bulgaria, employers, and representatives of national institutions concerned with the problems of people with disabilities took part in the Forum.
The success of the Forum was contributed by the delegation of Belgian experts, representatives of the Flemish authorities and NGOs from Flanders, as well a large number of Bulgarian representatives of state and local authorities, NGOs, municipalities, socially responsible corporations and other entities.
Among the guests were Mr. Luc Zelderloo - Secretary General of the European Association of Service for People with Disabilities, Mr. Jos Tyunis - Head in the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Jan Pfeiffer - Chairman of the Deinstitutionalization Working Group in the European Commission, Mr. Mark Mihilsen - Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Bulgaria, Ms. Catherine Raymaekers - First Secretary and Consul of Belgium in Bulgaria, Ms. Valentina Simeonova – Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Ms. Nadya Shabani - Chairman of the State Agency for Child Protection, Ms. Iliana Malinova - Deputy Executive Director of the Social Assistance Agency, Ms. Mariana Karkovska - Secretary General of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Krassimir Kotsev - Chairman of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Albena Atanasova - Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality, mayors and representatives of municipalities in the country.
The Forum was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Agency for Social Assistance, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the State Agency for Child Protection, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria.
The programme and appropriate conditions created opportunity for active participation in the plenary sessions, including topics:
- European current social policy after Lisbon Treaty
- UN Convention, services for people with disabilities and deinstitutionalization
- National and local policies to support people with disabilities in Bulgaria after 20 years of transition and 2 years membership in the European Union
- Services of better quality of life for people with disabilities
- Development of community services as an alternative to care institutions
There were very interesting discussions in the workshops on the following topics:
- Public-private partnerships as a tool for developing new services and renovation of existing organizations. Successful models of public-private partnerships for social activities in other European countries.
- Current legal basis of care services. Laws, legal support, condition. Identification of obstacles in the legislation
- European funding for providers of social services.
- Management of service quality.
- Companies for employment of people with disabilities.
- Activities to generate revenue (activities during the daily care). Calculation of costs, setting prices and marketing of products and services.
- Financial management services: calculation of cost and pricing of services. The role of authorities in the subsidization of services. Balancing equity contribution of the service user - interference of the authority. Social aspects and principles.
- Cooperation with banks. Use of traditional banking products for financing the activities of social service providers.
- Management and staff training: motivation, remuneration other than salary, staff training and job training, care staff. Staff training as a key tool for improving quality of services, renovation of care and services, motivating and rewarding staff
- Planning of social services. Methods of needs assessment by social services.
- Care centre and personal life planning. New visions of the care management: self-determination, identification of the needs of a user, personal development plan.
- Participation of service users. Participation of the client and the client network (parent) in the provision of care. How can users participate in the process of management and discussing with the staff?
- Current and future activities of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility.
During the Forum, NASO’s First National Awards were given, and at a special gala dinner Mr. Luke Zelderloo solemnly presented certificates for membership of the organizations that are already members of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility and the European Association of Service for People with Disabilities.
All participants were given the opportunity for individual meetings with experts and partners at home and abroad.
During the final session, His Excellency Ambassador of Belgium in Bulgaria Mr. Mark Mihilsen congratulated the organizers and participants in the Forum and once again expressed his support for future work and partnership between the two countries regarding the problems of people with disabilities.
For the successful hosting of the Forum it was also contributed by all participants from the country who had the opportunity to learn about patterns of European practices, exchange experience and ideas and establish partnerships for better development of the social sector in our country. Satisfaction mutually shared by most participants was accompanied with an assessment of relevance and usefulness of the most successful forum until now.
Thanks and congratulations to all participants, with expectation and readiness for further fruitful partnerships with current and future members of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility.
We inform all who are interested in the topic and want to receive information for successful work of the forum participants that the presentations, questions and answers are provided to the participants in an electronic version on CD and will be published in the Library Site of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility - www.naso.bg.
By the Secretariat of NASO
Varna, on 27/04/2010