On 3 December 2005, the international day of people with disabilities, the Delegation of the European Commission published its first report on the general EU Disability Action Plan. The overall aim for 2006-2007 is to improve the “active inclusion” of disabled people, being independent living the best way to do so.
Protected housing for people with intellectual difficulties is a form of social service within the community. The people living in the protected housing lead independent life with the support of specialists. These are people with slight or medium form of intellectual difficulties who have spent most of their lives in specialized institutions and have realistic chance for social integration. Protected housing provides conditions for natural social integration and is based on the realisation of different activities adapted to the individual abilities and needs of each client.
Several protected houses have been opened in the last few years with the financial support of Tulip Foundation. The new Learning and Sharing Programme of Tulip Foundation started with the organisation of a working meeting “Protected Housing for People with Intellectual Difficulties”. The meeting took place on 9-10 December 2005 in Sofia. Representatives of 16 Bulgarian NGOs that have protected housing or are in the process of offering the services to the community as well as representatives of local authorities interested in partnership with NGOs for opening protected housing took part in the meeting. The participants came from Pernik, Razlog, Sliven, Vidin, Targovishte, Gorna Orjahovitza, Russe, Dryanovo, Stara Zagora, Pazardjik, Kozlodui, Vratza, Samuil, Bansko. They were addressed by a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy on the behalf of the Deputy Minister.
The programme of the meeting focused on the methods and standards of work in the protected housing for people with intellectual difficulties; selection process, preparatory work and accommodation of clients; professional teams and training needs and opportunities, possibilities for funding and cooperation.
Among the priority problems identified by the participants were: the need of increasing the number of paid staff with view to the quality of services offered; adapting the condition in the protected housing and making them as close as possible to the family environment; abolishing the age limit for achieving primary education; discussing the possibilities for temporary placement in the protected housing of people with families; specifying the criteria and forming a commission for taking potential protected housing clients out of social institutions.
In the end of the working meeting the participants elected an informal working group whose task is to prepare a written statement covering identified problems and possible solutions for improving the services offered by protected housing for people with intellectual difficulties.
Tulip Foundation will provide financial support for short working visits among the organisations that declare interest in exchange of experience.
The list of organisations that took part in the working meeting as well as brief presentation of their activities is available in Bulgarian here. Any organisation that wishes to be included in the list and to participate in further working meetings and exchange of experience is invited to fill in an information form and send it to Tulip Foundation by e-mail or ordinary mail.