Children from families who have no economic standing, who are under skilled and from outlying rural areas are particularly affected by discrimination and poverty. Catastrophic living conditions combined with unemployment and systemic dis-crimination create a vicious circle that is difficult to break out of. Some children in the poverty-stricken areas of Sofia, the so called “mahalas,” never go to school or are placed in a special needs class.
CONCORDIA Bulgaria began its work in Sofia in 2008 to provide sheltered housing and educational opportunities for young people from marginalised communities. Today CONCORDIA cares for children, young people and families who are experiencing poverty and social exclusion - among other things through educational offers in the day centres, social counselling and outreach work with the families. In 2019 more than 1,700 people were supported by the services of CONCORDIA Bulgaria.
Not everyone manages to seek help on their own. Often because of ignorance or misconceptions. Much more often because of feelings of shame, which make it difficult for people in need to seek help. That is why one of our most important projects in Bulgaria is outreach work in and around Sofia. Our social workers go directly to the families - often Roma - and offer their help on the spot. Low-threshold and without coercion.
Slowly, a basis of trust is built up. The staff members get to know the people in their familiar surroundings and can thus better assess what is needed and how CONCORDIA can help with tailor-made offers. The questions they encounter are very different: questions about the upbringing and education of the children, help with obtaining documents, financial or medical support.
What does that mean in concrete terms?
Our services in outreach work
Since 2020, we have had a medically equipped vehicle in Sofia that allows us to visit people in their homes. Our team advises residents on health issues, provides assistance in various matters, supports children and young people in learning and delivers relief supplies to the poorest regions. We are currently working in the districts of Hristo Botev, Tatarli, Malashevtsi, Orlandovtsi and Zaharna Fabrika.
Our services are aimed at children, young people and families in need and include:
- Medical services & referrals
- Psycho-social and health counselling
- Distribution of food parcels, clothing and products for daily needs
- Learning support for students to avoid dropping out of school
- Out-of-school activities for vulnerable children
- Assistance in accessing public services such as health insurance and social benefits
- Prevention programmes and information campaigns on sexuality, pregnancy and parenthood, violence prevention and dealing with aggressive behaviour, stereotypical gender and family roles
- Strengthening the family so that children can grow up in the family circle
Why do we do this?
With this project we support vulnerable children, youth and families from (Roma) communities in Sofia to lead an independent and self-determined life outside exclusion and discrimination. We thereby mitigate the main risks that lead to family separation. Over time, CONCORDIA has strengthened its relationships with members of the Roma community and can now build on a foundation of mutual trust.