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On 10 and 11 November 2011, experts from Cedar Foundation visited the social services complex in Ruse to meet the team there and exchange experience in the provision of social services especially those, provided in the family-type home where 8 children from the Mogilino institution for the disabled, are now accommodated.

The visit was prompted by the participation of Cedar Foundation in Kyustendil in the closure of the home for mentally retarded children in Gorna Koznitsa. The foundation now manages a complex comprising two family-type homes for children and two protected homes for young adults where youngsters from the closed home in Gorna Koznitsa are accommodated.

The specialists from Kyustendil showed considerable interest in the complex and, more especially, the family-type home for the children and young people from Mogilino. The guests were concerned about problems relating to the education of the children with disabilities and the community-based services available and other rehabilitation options. We shared our experience of specialist services – biofeedback, physiotherapy and hippotherapy involving horses plus the more straightforward components of their individual daily programmes that include walks outdoors and visiting public places which assist their socialization and adaptation to life in the community.

Equilibrium’s programme for development of volunteers attracted the interest of Cedar Foundation. It involves the formation of stable relationships with partners with special talents or interests who contribute to the programme for children’s groups. We also discussed other forms of volunteering, established as a good practice in the complex – corporate volunteering and the involvement of students from some of the city’s schools who, among other things, are currently helping us to make cards for our Christmas charity bazaar.

We shared our mutual concerns about the insufficient financing for the provision of family-type accommodation and discussed the strategies of EQ and Cedar for dealing with this issue.

Our guests left happy with the information we shared and impressed by the list of services we provide.