In August 2021, the Municipality of Ruse launched the project “Integrated measures for social and educational inclusion of vulnerable groups on the territory of Ruse Municipality” in partnership with Equilibrium, several kindergartens, Kanev University Hospital, Centre Dynamics Association, Social Capital Development Association, etc.
Within the project the following activities were conducted during 2022:
Ø ACTIVITY 1 – Activating economically inactive persons
The purpose of the activity is to activate and include the labor market of vulnerable groups on the territory of the municipality, incl. Inactive and discouraged persons and young people up to 29 years old (25 parents) who do not work, do not study and are not registered unemployed, through individual and group implementation of instruments and services for the attraction and motivation to register them with the Employment Agency (EA) and promoting their inclusion in training and employment.
So far, 15 persons /10 men and 5 women are registered in the EA. The team shares observations that women are more motivated than men to work. The following services were provided to the group exclusively from:
– Labour mediator at EA Maya Gencheva, who contributes by engaging with the different individuals and giving them alternatives;
– Health mediator of Ruse Municipality R. Hristova, who directs the team, assists in negotiating meetings, and, if possible, visiting Roma neighborhoods.
Information about potential users receives from its neighborhood tours from unemployed parents. In addition to providing motivation and registering in the EA specialists also assist in interviews for work cater for the provision of transport.
Ø ACTIVITIES 3 – RETURN TO EDUCATION OF YOUNG MOTHERS WHO DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL
The activity is aimed at supporting 10 young mothers from the social housing, threatened by poverty and social exclusion due to early maternity and dropping out of school. These individuals (between the ages of 15 and 29) were supported to return to school and to improve their level of education In order to improve their job prospects.
The team meets the challenges in motivating and young mothers in schools for a variety of reasons:
– 2 years ago the evening form of education was abolished and now there is only independent /shared by educators/;
– Persuading the representatives of the Roma ethnic group to complete a certain degree. Motivation is hindered by the community – if the girl goes back to school her family life will fail. It is prestigious for Roma women not to work. Things happen if there is awareness and men are not Roma. Those who live abroad generally do not go to school, but they possibly learn the language.
Two young mothers who returned to education interrupted it in grade 12. One is a representative of the Turkish ethnic group, the other – of the Roma ethnic group. Both have two children already. They are enrolled in the vocational gymnasium and the Mechanical Engineering School. The motivation of one mother is to show a picture of her children’s diploma, she took a picture in front of the school.
Ø Activity 6 – Organizing events initiated by representatives of vulnerable groups in the community and those accommodated in social housing to achieve a positive change in public attitudes towards the problems of the most vulnerable groups in segregated areas.
The aim of the activity is to promote and present the strengths and positive examples of representatives of vulnerable communities. 3 focus groups will be held with those accommodated in social housing, in the Selmetja and in the Sredna Kula neighborhoods, and 3 public events will be implemented based on the representatives of vulnerable groups’ strengths and significant examples to present them in a positive light.
A total of 6 focus groups and 2 public events have been implemented in the two neighborhoods – Sredna Kula and Selemetya Square, with 20 and 80 of the public events participants in the focus groups.
A total of 6 focus groups and 2 public events were held in the two neighbourhoods – Kv. Sredna Tower and Kvart. Selemetya, with 20 participants in the focus groups and 80 in the public events.
At the request and ideas of the participants from Kv. The traditions of the Roma ethnic group were presented at the public event in the two festivals – Ederlezi /Gergievden/ and Proshka /Pardon/, and in Kv. Selemetya presented traditions, holidays, weddings and traditional cuisine in the community. At the public events, bags with the project logo, a logo cup, a notebook and a pen are distributed.
In both neighborhoods, activities are facilitated by facilitators who are recognizable in the community and trusted.
Preparation for focus groups in social housing was conducted in December 2022.
Activity 10 – Comprehensive assessment of the needs of persons/children/families accommodated in social housing
The aim of this activity is to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the needs in the households accommodated in social housing in several key areas of well-being. The comprehensive assessment will be based on indicators developed by experts in 6 areas of household well-being and a scale for measuring change. The evaluation will be carried out twice, at the beginning and at the end of the project. The initial evaluations will support the identification of the different target groups for the different activities. The second round of evaluations at the end of the project will achieve two objectives: 1) it will show the impact of the implemented actions – the results of the work of all Equilibrium specialists in the different activities by strand; 2) it will show in which directions future activities should be developed – contribution to policy making at municipal level.
In 2022 the team of specialists has prepared needs assessments for 38 individuals and 57 children (25 families).
The families accommodated in the social housing are the target group for almost all the activities of the project and that is why the work with them started with the preparation of needs assessments /in several areas/. On the basis of the identified needs, a team from the municipality of Ruse prepares work plans and joint meetings are organized, where Equilibrium specialists present the agreed assessments with the users and agree on the implementation of the planned activities. At the end of the project, the Equilibrium team will prepare re-evaluations to monitor the results achieved. Liaison is maintained with the social workers in the housing district and work with them to arrange meetings and exchange information.