Every year, Equilibrium presents aspects of its work to an audience of its peers. We select activities that are especially innovative or particularly topical because of current national priorities.
On 11th April, 2018 we hosted such an event at the Hub in the centre of Sofia with our close colleague Lora Sarkisyan acting as facilitator.
We were honoured that the opening speaker was Rositsa Dimitrova, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy who is very familiar with the work of Equilibrium. She referred to our achievements in the context of national policy relating to the welfare of children and families.
We chose to present three aspects of our work –
The family-style accommodation for teenagers in the town of Byala
Our pioneering work with families with very young children that leads in the direction of universal family support
Integrated services in Ruse: family-style accommodation for children and young adults who need constant medical care, mother-and-baby unit and day-centre for children with disabilities.
Nadia Petrova – who manages the Byala facility – gave a presentation that helped audience members understand both the considerable challenges and the significant achievements that have emerged since the youngsters moved to their new home in 2016. The sense of achievement was powerfully reinforced when the audience could hear some of the teenagers tell their own stories in a very moving film created by Roma journalist Biser Petkov and his team. It was great that Biser was with us in Sofia where he could see for himself the powerful impact of his documentary film.
Galya and David Bisset joined forces to explain the ways in which our new early childhood centre is working in parallel with the social services that we manage to develop new methods of supporting families with young children. With financial support from the Velux Foundations, and adapted models seen in Sweden and Scotland, Equilibrium is carrying a message to families, educators and childcare professionals about how to optimize the development and education of children before they reach school-age. Part of our communication strategy involves smartphone-friendly outreach to the typical modern parent who is busy, distracted and stressed. Working in collaboration with Arena Media – a long-term partner – Equilibrium is creating a series of short videos that offer a glimpse of the science behind our playful style and informal approach. It was great Teodor Mechev – one of the main contributors to this media venture – was with us in Sofia when we gave the audience a short glimpse of the communication platform we are building.
After the 2016 closure of the Home for Medical and Social Care (“baby home”) in Ruse, the building was converted so as to provide alternative services for children and parents. Vyara Georgieva manages the three services that are run by Equilibrium and she provided an insight into one of the most challenging and difficult aspects of Bulgaria’s national deinsitutionalisation programme – the provision of direct care (including palliative care) to infants and children with very severe medical or neurological conditions and the provision of support to parents of children with disabilities. Vyara expressed her gratitude to our working partners without whose support our task would be impossible.
The Hub has become a favourite venue. We take this opportunity to thank the management team. We thank all members of the Equilibrium team from Ruse and Sofia who contributed to the success of the event.