Democracy and participation, Civic education

I - netWork

Community Influencers network for strengthening democratic values

Creators

Who is behind this?

Elena Kabakchieva

Health and Social Development Foundation

http://www.hesed.bg

Bulgaria

Idea

Idea pitch

In recent reports Bulgaria was classified as hybrid democracy due to malignant propaganda against EU values. Our idea is to build a stable net of influencers inside two closed Roma communities to strengthen civil cohesion. We plan to identify Popular Opinion Leaders to foster their civic competences and understanding of democratic values and to motivate them for active participation in a large network of online and offline communication channels to resist to manipulations against democracy.

Where will your project idea take place?

Faculteta and Filipovtzi, two big socially isolated Roma neighborhoods in Sofia, Bulgaria

What is the local challenge?

Located in the outskirts of the capital, those neighborhoods are geographically and socially isolated from the other parts of the city with more than 50 000 residents living there in high density. Due to social isolation and low civic literacy those big Roma communities are strongly affected by a malignant propaganda recently. There are very intensive processes of denial of European values driven by misinformation, fake news and fears, that aquire different social appearances such as organized withhold of the children from school, appeals to reject the restrictions of the health authorities. The last months Covid 19 proved without any doubt that disinformation kills - those communities were the most affected from the disease.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

Advent of new technologies and social media in Roma community empower new people out of the traditional communication channels, to be socially active. This positive change comes together with increased vulnerability to provocations. To strengthen active citizenship we plan: (1) to organize a wide netWork of influencers with different social characteristics- age, gender, marital status, who will participate in the public debate but also will influence the community online and offline; (2) to increase civic literacy in 4 areas: 1.Values –valuing democracy, support education and child development; 2.Attitudes – civic-mindedness, personal responsibility; 3. Knowledge and critical understanding of the social and political realms; 4.Skills - critical thinking, communication skills.

Who are you doing it for?

Young people (14-18) are at the age of forming values, attitudes and skills. They are keen their opinion to be considered by their parents and grandparents. We are planning to attract young people, to foster their civic competences and understanding of democratic values trough interactive offline training and to activate them as online influencers
Young families (18-30). The young parents are interested in issues regarding their children: schooling, nutrition, health issues. They are active online and they are most exposed to malignant propaganda.
Influential men above 40– those are opinion leaders within the community. Their opinion and advise is very important for the successful implementation of any community program.

How do you plan to get there?

1.The young people (24) will be organized in 2 micro offline training-groups to foster their civic competences and communication skills. They will be active online by posting announcements, videos, initiating debates (could be adapted for online)
2.The parents (150) will be organized in Viber information channels (7 groups)/ closed FB groups (2) where they could have access to reliable information, discuss important issues, refer their worries to experts. They also will be active online and offline disseminating double-checked information, civic education videos
3.Influential men (micro-groups) will be involved in periodical individual consultations to advise us regarding the community issues and possible solutions
Most active and influential popular opinion leaders will be awarded.

What are the expected results?

In one year there will be a vital, stable multi-level infrastructure of influencers, effective online and offline communication channels within the communities to provide double/triple checked information. Тhe results could be observed in 2 levels: (1) community level - creating this infrastructure we will open the public debate regarding important for the community issues, will raise the digital health and civic literacy of the young people, will increase their communication skills and thus their participation opportunities. Indirect benefits would be improved school attendance of the children, improved alimentation and health status (2) individual level– improved level of personal responsibility and capability to make informed independent decisions regarding health and social issues.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Civic education can be broadly defined as equipping and empowering citizens to participate in democratic and participatory governance. The rationale behind is to promote informed and engaged public. Fostering citizenship competences as understood by the Council of the European Union, this initiative will enhance the participants’ understanding of democratic values and communal participation. This approach directly leads to the civic participation of young people in their communities – as they will be encouraged to actively influence their social networks on important social issues and thus also feeds into the EU’s aim of supporting the active citizenship of Roma communities.

What is your story?

Disinformation kills - information saves. This is our motivation to bring our idea to life. During the last several years we have observed severe propaganda against EU values within Roma communities together with Covid-19 it created urgent call for action. Our mission as organization is to promote opportunities for personal and community development, health and social well-being, as well as to create and popularize effective approaches for the successful integration of socially excluded communities. Building a supportive I-NetWork will help to increase trust in science vs destructive myths, trust in the helpfulness of democratic values vs. separation and hate.

€ 49000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 49000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Management and organization- 6000
Communication with influencers in all groups (daily) and public relations - 17000
External experts and consultant’s fees for weekly consultations - 6000
Trainings of POLs and meetings with influencers - 8000
Award fund - 6000
Visibility - 2000
Office expenses - 1000
Efectivnes' evaluation- 3000

Team

HESED

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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