National Patients' Organization
The project will mobilize civil energy in two Bulgarian cities in a challenging situation to improve civil participation and bring for positive change in the areas of education, healthcare and social policies. Local civil leaders will be identified, trained and supported to establish groups of civil activists, examine local needs and challenges in the areas of education, healthcare and social policies, make concrete proposals and provoke a change.
The project will take place in the cities Vratsa and Sliven in Bulgaria.
The regions of the project experience diverse challenges in education, healthcare and social policy due to their unfavorable economic situation. The level of civic culture and activity is low due to the lacking opportunities and high level of migration of educated population. Most of the social services are implemented by municipalities with low involvement of civil society organizations, which makes the latter weak and underrepresented. Civil society is underdeveloped and examples of civil activity which contribute for social change are rather exceptional. The project will address poverty and social isolation by 1) mobilizing civil energy of local leaders and activist groups; 2) addressing challenges in education, social policy and healthcare through “bottom-to-top” approach.
The project will be directed to the most vulnerable populations of underrepresented citizens in both cities, such as young Roma mothers and their children, people with disabilities, living in poverty, young people who are outside of the education system and/or labor market, elderly people living in isolation. The high level of migration of economically active people leads to a number of children who are left in the hands of their grandparents, which causes social problems for youngsters and for elderly. All these vulnerable groups of people will be addressed through the project by attracting and motivating local community members and involving local authorities and institutions for social change.
The project action plan includes the following activities:
1. Identification of key active community members and training them. They will be trained in general advocacy skills and specifically in the “action research” method, which they will apply later to examine challenges in education, healthcare and social policy in their communities.
2. Mapping of the communities and research on the deficits in education, healthcare and social policy through the perspective of vulnerable community members. The research will be carried out by trained community activists in their local environment.
3. Community mobilization work – trained activists will perform actions within the community to mobilize civil energy for change. This will include meetings in local setting (cafes, community centers, recreational sites like parks, etc.), discussions on the action research results, generating ideas for change, dialogues on opportunities for civil involvement.
4. Local campaigns for change of key problems of a concrete community or group. These will include concrete actions to solve a concrete problem through advocacy methods (meetings with institutions, letters, media involvement, etc.). Local groups will be supported in this process by project experts.
At the end of the project at least 40 vulnerable citizens will have been involved in civil actions mobilizing their civil activism and improving their ability to solve community problems. This will be achieved through 2 trainings for activists and 20 community meetings. Concrete problems in the areas of education, healthcare and social policy will be solved and thus the life of vulnerable people will be improved. In qualitative terms the project will achieve better visibility of community problems of vulnerable populations; it will contribute for increased civil activity on local level and improved collaboration between citizens and authorities. It will improve the representation of the vulnerable groups of people and decrease their dependency from the state.
Strengthening active citizenship is the core of the project. It will do so by leaders’ identification, training and methodological support for advocacy actions, involving of community members into action research and mobilizing civil energy for social change. The project will help community members understand better how the institutions work and how the citizens can transform their problems into solutions. It will use the “learning by doing” approach thus helping vulnerable groups of people understand better their power as community and become active citizens. They will design and implements their own campaigns and achieve concrete improvements for their community life.
The National Patients’ Organization believes that investment in health and social policy brings for social justice and economic development. It is part of our mission to empower communities and improve the dialogue between citizens and institutions. Therefore, this project is a relevant step towards the achievement of our mission and strategic plan.
The project will be coordinated by Elisaveta Kotova – a person with extensive experience in the civil sector. The team will involve two local coordinators – Stefan Stefanov in Sliven and Zornitsa Totkova in Vratsa – both experiences in civil initiatives and with deep knowledge of local community challenges. Main trainer and consultant will be Radostina Antonova – a professional with long experience in working with hard-to-reach populations.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs 26,120
Training and community mobilization 2,200
Visibility costs 800
Administrative costs 2,400
We would like to know more about similar experiences in other countries.