On May 15, the city of Burgas, in Bulgaria, hosted a regional meeting between the social service providers of Burgas and representatives from the Southeast of Bulgaria. The EASPD's Secretary General, Luk Zelderloo, participated in the meeting and highlighted the importance of following the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to achieve an integrated society.
The theme of the seminar was "Partnership for a Better Life" and the event was part of a NASO project with the same name. Mr. Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General of EASPD, and the EASPD board members - Mrs. Bernadette Grosyeux, general manager of Centre de la Gabrielle in France and Mr. James Crowe, Director of Learning Disabilities, Wales were the main speakers at the seminar. Mr. Georgi Georgiev, President of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility moderated the seminar.
Mr. Georgiev opened the meeting and expressed his satisfaction with the long-term partnership with Burgas Municipality. Burgas is also one of the grand prize winners of NASO for active social policy and contribution to the social and European development of Bulgaria. Dr. Loris Manuelyan, Deputy Mayor of Burgas, said that this partnership contributes highly to the continuous development and improvement of social conditions in the city.
Mr. Zelderloo set a focus on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and explained how the Convention contributes to an inclusive society. He presented the structure of EASPD, which represents more than 10,000 members, and highlighted the possibilities from exchange of experience and information in the EASPD network that may support the success of new social policies in Bulgaria. At the beginning of her speech, Mrs. Grosyeux referred to the 2002 Madrid Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, according to which the processes related to people with disabilities should not be decided and implemented without their active participation and agreement. She presented the best practices for integration and social inclusion of users in Centre de la Gabrielle and focused on the usage of the arts for social inclusion.
The director of Learning Disabilities, Wales, Mr. James Crowe presented opportunities for partnerships, exchange of experience and adapting policies, and made a parallel between the structure of governance in Wales and Bulgaria. He emphasized the strong partnership that exists in Wales between local authorities and the non-governmental sector, and expressed confidence that this is the best way to improve the performance of the social sector at all levels.
Dr. Loris Manuelyan, Deputy Mayor of Burgas, said that humanity is the leading element in the social policy of the city. Bulgaria has a unique dualistic model in providing social services, he said, and local authorities should work in partnership with all stakeholders to achieve a better quality of services. He spoke briefly about the social services provided by the local authorities and presented the innovative project "Silver City". Silver City’s main goal is improving the life standards of the elderly population. The strong desire of the Burgas Municipality to meet the needs of its citizens, and the realization of this aspiration in the innovative social policies of the city, was the concluding point of Mr Manuelyan’s speech.
Note to editors
The National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) is a Bulgarian umbrella organization for local authorities, service providers, NGOs and employers from the regular labor market. NASO provides an extensive of possibilities for partnership, exchange of experience and implementation of good practices. The NASO is part of the EASPD and its President, Mr. Georgi Georgiev, is part of EASPD’s Board.
The Agency for Social Development (Vision) is a legal entity with non for profit purpose which works in public benefit in Bulgaria. The organisation is specialised as a service provider in the area of culture and social development. The organisation provides information and legal and administrative consulting, methodic and creative intermediation and other services in order to motivate its clients for active and personal realisation. Vision is an EASPD's member.
Stefana Cankova, Project and Membership Officer