The Sofia Municipality hosted an international workshop on social policies for people with disabilities. Under the title “Europe 2020 – smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”, the event gathered together practitioners and social service providers from Bulgaria. Participants exchanged their points of views and experiences on how the European growth strategy can be effectively implemented, promoting a more integrated society.
On April 24 the Sofia Municipality hosted an international workshop on social policies for people with disabilities. The event was organized by the EASPD’s member, the National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO), in partnership with the Metropolitan Municipality of Sofia.
At the opening of the seminar Mr. Georgi Georgiev, President of NASO, expressed his commitment to active partnership and mediation at national and local level between service providers, authorities and people with disabilities, to develop active and effective social policies leading to qualitative improvement of services provided and hence, the quality of life.
Mr. Luk Zelderloo, EASPD’s Secretary General, said that the partnership between the Metropolitan Municipality and EASPD started in 2001, and the capital of Bulgaria is one of the leading cities in Eastern Europe implementing effective reforms for people with disabilities. “These reforms include the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires a change in mindset for social support for people with disabilities and a transition to solutions for social inclusion of people with disabilities”, said Mr. Zelderloo. He added that “this process of inclusion covers all range of activities - from including children with disabilities in mainstream schools to employment of people with disabilities in the regular labour market, and closing of institutions. This process is actively ongoing across Europe and Bulgaria, but there is still a long way to its finalization”. Mr. Zelderloo also recalled that “EASPD is committed to actively supporting the Bulgarian transition to social inclusion of disabled people”. Mr. Zelderloo then gave a brief overview of the main EU policies for the disability sector: the Europe 2020 Strategy, the European De-Institutionalisation (DI) Strategy and the European Semester.
Ms. Stefana Cankova, EASPD expert, took the floor and said that “the EU Strategy for Persons with Disabilities clearly demonstrates Europe's commitment to facilitating a life without barriers for them”. She also highlighted the important role of service providers in achieving the EU Strategy’s goals.
Moving from the European context to the Bulgarian one, Mrs. Dragoslava Lundzhova, from the Sofia Municipality, presented the regional development strategy for social services. There are 53 different services operating in Sofia and they are organised into four areas –children at-risk and their families, people with disabilities, elderly people and other vulnerable groups, and marginalised communities-. Mrs. Minka Vladimirova, from the Bulgarian service "Assistance for Independent Living", which provides services to 1,100 people and is financed by the Metropolitan Municipality of Sofia, emphasised their clear commitment to supporting the provision of innovative services in the NGO’s sector. ‘Our goal is to create an integrated model including the social, medical and educational support, and the new community centers will provide this model’, she added.
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 labour market. NASO provides a large range of possibilities for partnership, exchange of experience and implementation of good practices. NASO is part of the EASPD and its President, Mr. Georgi Georgiev, is part of EASPD’s Board.
Stefana Cankova, Membership and Project Officer.