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This was a year of self-examination and re-calibration.

As a provider of social services, EQ had to adapt to a newly imposed operational framework that should render service provision more rational and efficient from an operational perspective. The changes aren’t wholly unwelcome (the Bulgarian government was reacting to genuine and significant anomalies), but their introduction was hurried and, inevitably, there were “teething troubles”.

During the year, EQ released an online publication – ‘Voice of Adversity: Helping Disadvantaged People to Speak up for Themselves’. It’s available in pdf on our website (https://eq-bg.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Methodology-in-draft_my_text_all.pdf). It offers a detailed explanation of the approach we took to mentoring children and adults in storytelling and self-advocacy. It contains advice as to how service providers can promote these things and convert the information that they receive in 3 ways:

  1. Feedback on the impact of their intervention on the lives of children and families
  2. Identification of dominant themes and patterns using a tool which we have devised
  3. Exploration of the community in which they work and compilation of a narrative for community activism

We make use of lessons learned by adjusting the way we engage with our own clientele.

Readers are probably already aware of the initiative we call Play Sanctuary. We acknowledge and reward those who meaningfully incorporate play into the way they work with children, young adults and, indeed, grown-ups so as to release its beneficial effects. In the spring of 2023, we released a short video that showcases the work that encouraged us to develop this platform for promoting play. We worked with the teaching staff and auxiliaries at the fantastic ‘Brothers Grimm’ kindergarten in Sofia converting the heavily concreted schoolyard and parts of the interior space to encourage free play, exploration and, creative use of components of the environment (“variables” per Simon Nicholson).

The film can be sourced at this link – https://eq-bg.org/en/brothers-grimm-kindergarten/

EQ continues to remain active internationally interacting with childcare organisations and academia especially in the context of

  1. Developing and implementing the EC’s Child Guarantee
  2. Improving communication channels between researchers and frontline practitioners, a relationship that is often distorted by politicization of issues and their gross over-simplification