Bilitis Resource Center Foundation
The project Everyday Changemakers will support a bottom-up response to the challenges of social inclusion and empowerment of disadvantaged groups in South-Western Bulgaria by uniting 4 partners working with 3 disadvantaged groups: Roma, deaf people, and LGBTI. Local youth task forces will be created in 5 towns to foster community cohesion and empower the groups that are traditionally left out from the decision-making process on policies that concern them.
Five towns in South-West Bulgaria.
The region of South-West Bulgaria is characterized by ethno-nationalistic discourse, reinforced by local elites. All selected towns have large Roma communities. The region of Blagoevgrad is also characterized by mixed population with higher proportion of Pomacs (Bulgarian Muslims). Civil society is the only stakeholder that combats discrimination and addresses inequalities resulting from inefficient policies for social inclusion.
The project will foster a holistic approach in building community conhesion, inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue, overcoming xenophobia, homophobia, antigypsyism, educational segregation of people with disabilities, and other forms of social exclusion. Young people are seen as a key player in the process, especially the ones who have already been active.
The key target group are youth from the social mainstream as well as from disadvantaged groups: Roma, LGBTI and deaf people. The Everyday Changemakers project gained insights by various research, which emphasized the need for strengthening the grassroots layer of civil society organizations that engage citizens directly in order to foster a democratic process. Only a few strongly professionalized CSOs with access to international funding are currently visible in the region. The rationale for the project is that strengthening youth leaders from different social groups to take part in agenda-setting processes, training them to increase their capacities for strategic communication and advocacy, and providing seed funding for youth-led initiatives, will enable social inclusion and empowerment.
Step 1: Mapping, Engaging, Awareness Raising of young leaders from diverse social groups
This step includes participatory research and action planning in the regions/communities that are targeted by the intervention with the aim to:
-assess the social inclusion process
-identify the groups that have been left out, and the CSOs which represent them
-conduct consultations with CSOs and individual key informants
-identify the obstacles to social inclusion of disadvanataged groups
-structure youth task forces and develop the plan for their capacity building based on needs assessment.
Step 2: Strategizing Together and Capacity Building
This step includes a series of interactive workshops with the youth task-forces in the 5 towns that will:
-facilitate structured dialogue between the young people from various social groups (Roma, Muslims, LGBTI, deaf people, and non-minority youth)
-generate specific ideas for follow-up actions to overcome the issues that have been identified
-implement capacity building trainings focused on advocacy, strategic communication and influencing the political process.
Step 3: Implementing Local Initiatives designed by the youth task-forces. At least 1 initiative per town will be implemented. We will directly pay for some of the implementation costs but will also encourage the youth to mobilize local in-kind resources.
- in-depth understanding of the issues to be addressed for better placing the disadvanataged groups at the center of the community development process,
- more than 50 young leaders from disadvanataged groups and from the mainstream identified and engaged in the 5 towns,
- enhanced dialogue and collaboration between young people from various social groups;
- enhanced capacity of youth leaders to influence the agenda setting on policies that concern the social inclusion of disadvanataged groups.
- enhanced citizen understanding of the mechanisms of divisionism, which obstruct the genuine social inclusion process;
- increased bottom-up action towards empowerment of disdvantaged groups to take part in decision-making on policies that concern them.
The capacity building activities of the youth task forces make use of an experiential learning approach. In addition to being taught about the power structures, policies and processes that create inequalities in society and leave some disadvantaged groups behind, the young people will be challenged to design bottom-up actions that address these inequalities and place them at the center of the local decision-making. The interactive sessions will include a number of learning-by-doing exercises that help the young participants understand how to achieve the change that they wish to see.
The motivation behind this idea comes from the assumption that marginalized groups can become change makers only when they come together and build alliances. Roma standing conference works in a network of 68 localities, incl. all 5 towns in the current project. Bilitis and GLAS have strong connections with the LGBTI community in Blagoevgrad, while in Dupnitsa there is a large deaf community. All partners work with their communities on a daily basis and we know that despite the common challenges and sources of opression, many people still don’t recognize the other communities as natural allies. Hence, creating spaces where they can meet and get to know each other, build trust and come up with ideas is the way to fostering strong intersectional local coalitions.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
- Project coordinator (Bilitis) - 5000
- Capacity-building Coordinator (Bilitis) - 2500
- Project expert (Listen up)- 5000
- Project expert (Roma Standing Conference)-5000
- Project expert (GLAS)- 5000
Total: 22500 EUR
Capacity Building Activities (incl. travel for physical meetings):
- Bilitis – 1500
- Listen up – 1500
- Roma Standing Conference – 1500
- GLAS -1500
Total: 6000 EUR
Direct support for bottom-up initiatives and communication activities
Total: 6500 EUR