Social activities for elderly people
06.02.2006
There are some 2 025 000 people in retirement age living in Bulgaria, which represents some 26% of the population. These more than two million people are located in different proportions in the various regions of the country as in some parts their percentage amounts up to 48%, and there are villages in which there are almost no younger people.

In the World Bank report Bulgaria: Successful Integration in the EU – Policy Agendapresented on 6 February 2006 the economists of the World Bank analyze the achievements of the Bulgarian economy in the process of preparation for the EU membership. The report underlines that reforms are particularly necessary because of the demographic crisis in the country and the immigration which lead to a considerable decrease of the number of people in employment age and aging of the population which is beyond comparison with the speed of the same process in other countries in the region.

Opportunities for independent and active living, conditions fordevelopment and participation in public life, the right to respect and acknowledged contribution to the society are among the leading principles for working with elderly people accepted by the UN, International and European organisations as well as by many Bulgarian NGOs working with and for elderly people, whose activities are important and highly relevant in the context of an aging society and the current trends in establishment and provision of community based services.

In last years a considerable number of NGO projects targeted at provision of services, opportunities and social contacts for elderly people in various towns and villages have been funded by Tulip Foundation. Among the activities of the supported projects are cultural and other initiatives, clubs, day and consultative centers, home care, homes for elderly etc.

A working meeting “Social Activities for Elderly People” took place in Sofia on 3 -4 February, organised by Tulip Foundation. Among the participants were representatives of more than 35 NGOs from around the country running programmes providing services and activities for elderly people, a number of municipalities and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

The main international documents and frameworks concerning the elderly people like the European Social Chart and the Madrid International Plan of Action were presented at the meeting. The implementation of these international documents in Bulgaria was discussed. International organisations working in support of elderly people and for the implementation of their rights were presented - HelpAge International and AGE – The European Older people’s Platform, as well as the opportunities for collaboration with the Bulgarian organisations. The representatives of Charitable Association Hospice Miloserdie and Association for Social Assistance, Dryanovo presented to their colleagues their participation in the SEEN network of NGOs established with the support of HelpAge International.

The participants presented various community activities and services for elderly people organised by their organisations – social contacts, day and consultative centers and clubs,voluntary initiatives, art and craft activities,self help groups and neighbor care schemes, home care, homes for elderly etc. Useful ideas and opportunities for active involvement of the elderly themselves in the planning and the implementation of the activities were shared during the interesting discussion.

Possibilities for collaboration between the presented organisations as well as other interested parties were especially up-to-date issue for discussion. At the end of the meeting all participants decided to establish Bulgarian National NGO Network for working with and for elderly people. The Charitable Association Hospice Miloserdie was elected as a contact organisation for the network.

List of the organisation of the network with a brief summary of their activities will be presented on the web site of Tulip Foundation (www.tulipfoundation.net). Any organisation that wishes to be included in the list and to participate in future working meetings and exchange of experience is invited to fill out an information form and send it to Tulip Foundation by e-mail or ordinary mail.

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