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On 15.11.2018, by invitation of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility and Targovishte Municipality, Galya Bisset and Nadya Petrova took part in a national conference ‘’Innovations in community-based social work: modern therapeutic and capacity building methods and approaches.”

The event was aimed at creating space and opportunities for transfer of knowledge and innovation in social practice in Bulgaria. The conference was attended by almost 100 people from 17 municipalities throughout the country: managers and specialists from social services, social work lecturers and students and social NGOs.

„Equilibrium“ shared learning from managing for 2 years a small group home for typical children in Byala Municipality with a presentation titled: “From inside out or the importance of the human factor”.

„From inside out” – means that our priority is “life” inside the house. This should be understood, on one hand, as everything that relates to the internal mental and psychological processes – the emotions of both adults and children, and – on the other hand – to the everyday life inside the house. Good care is simple – it requires meaningful human presence. One doesn’t need to be a super expert in psychology or pedagogy – all it takes is to be sensitive and responsive to the other person. To be able to notice small but important changes in his/her emotional state and behavior; to be able to “hear” beyond the words. The capacity to understand, to listen actively, to offer opportunities for confiding is key for building trust and warm relationships between adults and children.  When the children develop a sense of security, belonging and self-respect, the internal motivation for learning and growth flourishes.

The approach was illustrated with the story of one of the kids, told in first person. It proves that when the adults and the place offer a secure base, the child can overcome serious attachment disorders, can improve his emotional and behavioural responses and self-esteem, can learn to relate positively to the others and start planning for the future.

The conference participants received a book with the same title – the newest publication of “Equilibrium”, which can be found in the “Interesting and useful” section of the website ( http://eq-bg.org/bg/otvatre-navan-ili-za-smisala-na-coveskoto-prisastvie/ ).  The book is not a methodology or intervention tool for achieving change. It is an honest account of a new approach leaving behind the administratively prescribed framework. Caring for children can not be put in a framework. Regulatory documents are important, however, they can not prescribe the emerging of deep human relationships, in our case between the children who live in the small group home and the adults responsible for taking care of them.

The case studies in the book reveal the daily life challenges that both children and staff face. They make us think how adults should be present in the residential services and the way we communicate and engage with the boys and the girls there.