From June 24 to 26 the Fifth Forum of Service Providers for People with Disabilities in Bulgaria on "Social inclusion through the open labour market" was held at Iberostar Obzor Beach - Izgrev Hotel Complex in Golden Sands Resort, Varna.
For the last four years, it was the fifth forum, and the first thematic forum, organized by the National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) and the Agency for Social Development - Vision, with the support and partnership of the European Commission, the European Association of service for people with disabilities /EASPD/, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and the involvement of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Social Assistance Agency, Employment Agency and National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria.
The Forum was a part of the European "PASS IT ON" project in which the Agency for Social Development - Vision and the newly created organization National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) are Bulgarian partners of the European Association of service for people with disabilities /EASPD/, together with 7 more organizations from other European countries: Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Malta, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
The Forum included two sections:
- The first section was dedicated to the work of service providers for people with disabilities and the future development of NASO and network.
- The second section covered a two days training enabling the participants to become familiar with the particular materials compiled by the European projects already implemented in the field of employment and to discuss the employment situation and job market for people with disabilities in Bulgaria, as well as opportunities to implement innovative European practices in our country.
The Forum aimed to raise awareness of the public of providing opportunities for people with disabilities to be equal participants in the open labour market through vocational training and long term strategies, and providing opportunities for people with disabilities to realize in the open labour market through support of professionals, employers and other stakeholders in this process.
Over 90 representatives of over 50 service organizations for people with disabilities, employers, representatives of specialized companies, municipalities, and representatives of national institutions concerned with the problems of people with disabilities participated in the Forum.
The participants were greeted by the following guests of the Forum:
- Mr. Pavel Dimitrov, MP
- Mr. Dancho Simeonov, Governor of Varna
- Mr. Kiril Yordanov, Mayor of Varna
- Mr. Ivaylo Ivanov, Executive Director of the Social Assistance Agency
- Mr. Mincho Koralski, Executive Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities
- Ms. Petya Demireva, Head of Integration of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy
- Mr. Plamen Girginov, State Expert, Department of Programming and Planning, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy
- Ms. Kamelia Koycheva, a representative of the National Association of Municipalities in Republic of Bulgaria and Deputy Mayor of Dobrich
- Mayors, deputy mayors and representatives of municipalities and other institutions in the social sphere.
Special greetings to NASO and to the participants of the Forum were read by:
- Totyu Mladenov, Minister of Labour and Social Policy
- Luke Zelderloo, Secretary - General of the European Association of service for people with disabilities
Photo (from left to right): Mr. Mincho Koralski, Executive Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Pavel Dimitrov MP, Mr. Georgi Georgiev, Chairman of NASO, Mr. Kiril Yordanov, Mayor of Varna, Mr. Dancho Simeonov, Governor of Varna
Photo (from left to right): Mr. Ivaylo Ivanov, Executive Director of the Social Assistance Agency, Mr. Georgi Georgiev, Chairman of NASO, Ms. Kamelia Koycheva, a representative of the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria and Deputy Mayor of Dobrich and Deputy Mayor of Dobrich
The success of the Forum was contributed by Delegation of the European Association of service for people with disabilities, including experts from Belgium, Holland, Austria, namely:
- Ms. Sabine Prettenhofer, Austria, Project Manager, Lebenshilfe Graz
- Mr. Herve Gauthier, Belgium, Projects and Finance Officer, European Association of service to people with disabilities
- Mr. Michiel Kamp, Netherlands, Secretary of the World Association for supported employment
- Mr. Ronald Haku, Netherlands, Director, Fontys University
- Mr. Harry van den Brand, Netherlands, Team Leader, Fontys University
- Mr. Rudy Waters, Belgium, Consultant, Job-link
The programme and appropriate conditions created the opportunity to taking an active part in plenary sessions, including a variety of topics:
- Status, aims, problems and prospects of the service providers for people with disabilities in Bulgaria, points of view of the Agency for social support, municipalities and service providers
- Status, problems and prospects of employment for people with disabilities in Bulgaria
- Status, problems and prospects of employment for people with disabilities in Europe
- Forms of state support and specific features of best practices in Belgium, Holland and other EU countries
- Presentation of the European "PASS IT ON" project and the compilation of European projects
- Presentation of Conversion project
- Presentation of Atlas project
- Presentation of I AM 2003 project
- Upcoming targeted support schemes for specialized firms in Bulgaria to EU operating programmes
- Innovative practices to support employment for people with disabilities
- Workshops for National and European partnership in the field of employment:
- Supported Employment and Conversion project experience
- I AM 2003 project, lifelong learning and good practice
- Atlas project
- Organization issues of NASO
All participants benefited from their wide range of opportunities available for individual meetings with experts and partners at home and abroad.
The active participation of representatives of a wide range of organizations and institutions contributed to higher utility of operations in these days, resulting in overwhelming satisfaction shared by all, accompanied by an assessment of relevance and usefulness.
The main conclusion made by the Forum is that employment means choice opportunities for people with disabilities. Thus the principal inference suggests that except work in specialized companies (which are experiencing serious difficulties) and separate programmes of the Employment Agency over the last 20 years in Bulgaria other forms of employment for people with disabilities are not developed. The organizers committed to summarize the discussions and formulate a proposal to state and local institutions related to the topic. On this occasion, all actors, as well as all stakeholders and institutions could make a proposal to NASO.
To implement pilot models of employment NASO contracted involvement of the EASPD participating experts for future joint developments.
We would like to inform those who are interested in the topic that all the presentations, questions and answers are provided to participants in electronic version on CD and will be published on the library of the website of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility /www.naso.bg/. Everyone who wishes to obtain materials from the Forum on CD or paper can make their applications at the Registry of NASO.
In the days of the Forum was held the Annual General Meeting of NASO on the following agenda:
- Status, aims, problems and prospects of the service providers for people with disabilities in Bulgaria. Discussion.
- Report on the activities of NASO 2009
- Financial statements for 2009
- Discussion on the future activities of NASO. Adoption of a Strategic Plan.
- Changes in the composition of the Board
After this general meeting in the composition of the new Board of NASO 5 organizations will work:
- Social Development Agency - Vision with Mr. Georgi Georgiev as a chairman of the Board, Varna
- GIF Ltd. represented by Mr. Georgi Filipov, Varna
- National Federation of Employers of Disabled People represented by Ms. Elka Todorova, Sofia
- Psychological Support Foundation represented by Ms. Nadezhda Yulzari, Sofia
- Care for Children with Disabilities Foundation represented by Ms. Svetla Grigorova, Gabrovo
General Meeting also endorsed working committees:
- Committee for Political Influence in charge of Georgi Georgiev
- Partnership with European, state and local authorities and structures
- Committee for Corporate Social Responsibility in charge of Georgi Filipov
- Partnership with corporate structures and organizations
- Employment Committee in charge of Elka Todorova
- Partnership with employers and structures in the field of social business
- Partnership with national organizations
- Committee for Social Services in charge of Svetla Grigorova
- Partnerships with social service providers and institutions concerned
- Education and Work with Children Committee in charge of Nadezhda Yulzari
- Partnership with providers and institutions working with children
- Committee for Quality of Service in charge of Ivanka Kazakova
- Partnership with service users and their organizations
- Committee for Professional Support Staff
- Partnership with organizations of professionals in the field of Social services