Democracy and participation, Social inclusion

Participation - we the citizens take the lead

Creators

Who is behind this?

Maria Chankova

Association for support of people with mental disabilities

http://www.sdrujenie.eu

Bulgaria

Idea

Idea pitch

The project aims to stimulate civic participation in small cities in Northeastern Bulgaria, by promoting dialogue to create an environment for social inclusion, improving interaction between stakeholders, and by empowering vulnerable groups for active civic participation. The goals of the project will be achieved by holding a number of information meetings, thematic trainings, discussion forums, publishing a report, information materials, public events to promote the ideas of the program.

Where will your project idea take place?

Our initiative will take place in 2 small municipalities in NE Bulgaria(Valchi Dol, Dolni Chiflik).

What is the local challenge?

In the municipalities of Valchi Dol, Dolni Chiflik there are polarized urban classification with a municipal center and small, isolated villages, closed communities with high unemployment and aging population, poor technical infrastructure, lack of qualified human resources, small share of industrial production, intensive migration. People in active age with higher education form a low percentage of the population, so the requirements for democratic governance are low. Our initiative is aimed at overcoming the weak civic cohesion in these communities(socially excluded groups, poor interaction between different groups, which stops the development of entire communities, lack of feeling for identity), to promote civic participation and strengthen faith in democracy.

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

In these municipalities there are no developed forms and practices of citizen participation in decision-making. Our initiative will work to create an environment for social inclusion by promoting dialogue and improving interaction between stakeholders, as well as empowering vulnerable groups so that everyone in the community can exercise their human rights. The main planned measures are the promotion of forms of civic participation, training of people from vulnerable groups in advocacy and self-advocacy, forms of joint participation of representatives of various stakeholders (eg local government - people at risk). Thus, by gradual increase in the level of civic activity and participation, an active civil society will be formed in these small communities and democracy will be strengthened.

Who are you doing it for?

In the initiative will be included as active participants (target groups) representatives of municipal administrations in the cities-centers of municipalities, mayors and deputy mayors, municipal councilors, local public councils established under the Social Assistance Act, social service providers, local NGOs, vulnerable groups - people with different disability profiles, and their families. All of them will participate in trainings, seminars, discussions, public events, stating their positions, exchanging ideas with other participants, sharing problems and plans for the development of their communities. We will attract the assistance of managers and leaders from each of these groups, incl. representatives of vulnerable groups who will be trained as advocates and self-advocates.

How do you plan to get there?

In the 2 municipalities we will organize initial meetings with representatives of all stakeholders, training on forms of civic participation, and a conference of the future. A monitoring of the existing mechanisms for interaction in the small municipalities will be carried out, with a report on the situation. We will organize training of local public structures in the social sphere on their roles, tasks and functions, as well as a forum on the topic "We the citizens take the lead". We will organize training for social services providers and people with disabilities "Social support through rights", an online platform for self-advocates, and a public event "Participating together". A booklet on the forms of civic participation and a Social Guide for the 2 municipalities will be issued.

What are the expected results?

The change of people's attitudes, incl. on public relations, is the most difficult to achieve and requires a lot of time and effort. In the short term we will have the products of the project - the information and training materials, the platform of self-advocates, as well as all publications in our electronic information channels. The expected results are related to the empowerment of vulnerable groups of people who will know their rights better and will have skills for self-advocacy. We envisage that the local social structures in the social sphere will work actively in these municipalities; social service providers will provide support to consumers through the prism of their rights. We expect sustainable civil society structures to begin to form and administrations to work with them.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Globally, the growing disregard for the conditions that shape the foundations of democracy - including respect for the rights of vulnerable groups, the space for critical dissent and commitment to the rule of law - threatens to destabilize the democratic order. In Bulgaria, where modern democratic principles have been applied only in the last thirty years, the state of democratic governance is fragile, and in small settlements, where there are very few or no associations of citizens, these processes are even more serious. We believe that small but fundamental steps towards the formation and strengthening of civil society in a part of Europe that is important not to remain on the periphery contribute to the sustainable return of faith in democracy in our large community.

What is your story?

Our organization was been established 26 years ago by parents of young people with intellectual disabilities, with the main mission of protecting the rights of people with mental disabilities and working to create more favorable living conditions for these people. A quarter of a century later, our country still has a long way to go to achieve these goals. Creating an environment for the social inclusion of people with mental disabilities presupposes a well-developed civil society, which not only accepts people with their differences, but also constantly strives to prevent the violation of the rights of those who find it difficult to assert their rights. Such we would like to be the characteristics of our society.

€ 43960,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 43960,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Personnel costs - 26000
Training - 8820
Public events and information materials - 4620
Logistics (transport, monitoring, report) - 4520

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any feedback would be helpful. It would be useful to find out if anyone in the Civic Europe online community has experience on the subject of our initiative and has applied specific training materials for people with special needs on the covered topics.

Team

sdrujenie_varna

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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