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On 30th May a local audience was invited to attend the official opening of a new service to be offered at the Ruse complex for social support of children and families.

Part of the second floor of the complex has been extensively re-designed to contain a music room, fitness room, art room and “VIP lounge” as well as office accommodation for a special team that will work intensively with young people who have come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The main target group is aged 10 to 18 and Equilibrium specialists will work with young offenders both on an individual basis and in the context of group activities. Parents and other family members will be actively involved in finding solutions to the problems that the youngsters face.

The Ruse venture is one of four pilot programmes created under a project undertaken by the National Network for Children and funded by the Velux Foundations from Denmark.

The event was facilitated by Elena Petkova, our director of programmes who invited Mariela Leycheva, head of the local directorate of social assistance to provide the audience with insight into the way the municipal authority encourages close cooperation between the judiciary and social services to enable the new service to take root and grow to provide meaningful support to vulnerable young people whose lives can be transformed and given meaning if we work together in the fields of prevention, advocacy and social rehabilitation. The mayor of Ruse, Plamen Stoilov has sent a letter pledging his personal support.

Speaking on behalf of Equilibrium were Galina (executive director), Valeria (social worker), Troyan (team leader in the new service) and David (chairman / director of training). The audience comprising many of Equilibrium’s working partners was given a summary of the main components of the work we will do with this target group. In addition, Galina and David explained the complex psychological and environmental factors we will need to tackle by comprehensively profiling each young person using a framework taken from the UK and using modern techniques in cognitive therapy.

The key to success lies in our ability to create a welcoming environment that promotes the growth of trust and mutual respect.

Guests were invited to take a brief tour of the new suite of rooms that had been blessed in the traditional Bulgarian Orthodox fashion at the start of the event. A craft workshop and martial arts practice were in progress.