RI-ing DI– this is how the process of deinstitutionalization (DI) in Bulgaria could be briefly described despite the token consensus around the need to take children and young adults (including those with physical and mental disabilities) out of the large institutions and to place them in foster care, protected dwellings, small group homes (SMG) and residential family-type settings.Read More
An open letter sent to the President – Mr. Rosen Plevneliev – by people with disabilities was brought to the Presidency today. It is related to possible appointments to the office of people associated with the previous status quo who could not make the change sought today. We support Mr Plevneliev in his struggle and the daunting task now to master the changes in the country and to give them a unified direction – a new social contract and mutual trust between citizens and the governing. That is why members of the new, albeit temporary, government and advisory body should not be allowed to come from governmental national representative organizations which are directly linked to the government in the last few years and have led to the extremely difficult situation of social exclusion for people with disabilities .
The full text of the letter can be read here.
WHY THE SHELTER HOMES ARE NEITHER “OF FAMILY TYPE” NOR “COMMUNITY SERVICES”, BUT A NEW KIND OF INSTITUTION
After the emotional story of the young people from the sheltered home in Lukovit about the unforgettable day in Sofia, I want to share my thoughts. They are one of the restless who always come out with anxiety and questions. Why, for instance, did it happen that only half of those who came to the long-planned and thoughtful excursion came to Sofia? And is it so difficult to find transportation for everyone?
I do not believe in apologies such as “no opportunity”, “this is the situation”, “it is not happening”. Moreover, when this type of behavioral model, in turn, creates a way of thinking and perceiving the world as a hostile place where people like Petya, Eli, Maria and Toshko find it difficult to fit.Read More
Finally, the government authorized Minister Donchev to generate, together with the civil sector, a strategy for the development of this sector and a mechanism for financing NGOs in Bulgaria. More information can be found here.
Although unaffected by the documents produced, the “God-anointed” (organizations with national representation status and eligible for legal subsidy) have decided to boycott the process through an opinion that can only cast doubt on the quality and competence of their “think tank”. To dispel these doubts, we expect them to respond to our following statement:
Ladies and Gentlemen from nationally represented organizations of and for people with disabilities,
In connection with the opinion submitted by you to the Minister of Management of EU Funds, Tomislav Donchev, on “Projects of a Strategy for Supporting the Development of Civic Organizations in Bulgaria for the Period 2012-2015” and “A Vision for Creating a Civil Financing Mechanism sector “, submitted for public consultation, we invite you to submit the following documents to the public, including people with disabilities in Bulgaria, by 20.07.2012 (generously giving you three weeks!):
- A decision of a state body to determine the status of “third social partner” of nationally represented organizations of and for persons with disabilities. The provision of Art. 5, para. 2 assigns to the nationally represented organizations of and for persons with disabilities an advisory role, but not the status of social partner within the meaning of the Definition of the term social partners and the meaning mentioned in the Labor Code, Chapter One – General, Tripartite Cooperation, Art. 3, para. (1);
- List of the other 44 regulations in which you state that this statute is regulated.
Finally, we would like to make it clear to the general public that the principle of financing any NGO cannot be comparable to that of political parties. For reference: POLITICAL PARTIES LAW, Chapter Three, PROPERTY, FINANCING AND EXPENDITURE, Art. 25, para. (1); Art. 26.
You can read the opinion here:
The debate on “Public policies in Bulgaria – between transparency and conspiracy ” struck a sore spot after a series of scandals in the state related to salaries in the state administration under the low-wage formula – a lot of extra pay, and with dubious quality of work. You hardly need to be a political scientist in order to put the diagnose of the public condition: a crisis of trust in power, in the way public money is managed and distributed. It comes from a lack of transparency and imitation of accountability – a fact that the Center for Independent Living and its partner organizations – the Institute for Modern Politics, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law- have been saying for a long time in the Cripple System campaign. We showed how government subsidies are being spent on the claim that social policies are being made.
We have unveiled the work of the National Council for the Integration of People with Disabilities (NCIPD), which is devoid of transparency and effectiveness. And we have come to the end, namely to propose a discussion methodology for the NCIPD, which would also be applicable to other advisory councils and public institutions.
The hall of the accessible Crystal Palace Hotel was full. People with disabilities from different cities in the country have been visibly intrigued by the question of how policies are “made for them” (the European motto “Nothing for us without us” is the main argument for the role of nationally representative organizations of people with disabilities ), and their environment remains inaccessible, their wheelchairs are old, they have no personal assistance … A good sign of recognition for the work done was the presence of advocates for good public administration from the Access to Information Program, from the Institute for Public Environment Development, from the European Society for Human Rights – all organizations without direct involvement in disability. To our surprise, the event was also honored by NCIPD representatives, though without notice. Apparently the illumination of their “legitimate” activity had made them nervous. The discussion was opened by Kapa Panayotova from the Center for Independent Living. She emphasized that the “Cripple system” is not only in the field of disability and that the trust in the public contract between the government and the citizens in Bulgaria is running low. “It turns out that the law is not always legitimate,” Kapka said of the bonuses, which scandalized the public. In this way, the topic “Public policies – right or wraith” becomes especially relevant for the traceability of the work of all state institutions and related structures. Kapka expressed her joy that there were representatives of many institutions and civil organizations that were not directly involved with people with disabilities.
The first topic discussed was “Publicity vs. The Audience.” It was led by Emil Georgiev of the Institute for Modern Politics, and was contributed to by the lawyer Atanas Slavov of the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law and Iliya Dzhambazova, a representative of the Pazardzhik civil movement. The main focus here was on the question of legitimacy – who is actually representative – one who has a certain number of members, or one who has ideas about important policies at the moment. Atanas Slavov challenged the content of the word representation: “Where to put the emphasis on” arithmetic or substantive understanding of the word?” he asked. “Expertise and legitimacy have nothing to do with numbers,” the lawyer concluded. Iliya Dzhambazova – a representative of a regional civil organization cited facts that indicate that there are no mechanisms for controlling the administration in Pazardzhik. “The only way to control the work of mayors and municipal councils is once every four years – through elections,” he said, stressing that the opportunity for local referendums given by the law has never been used.
The second part of the discussion was entitled “Good Governance, Better Governance, Best Governance”, led by Stanimir Kiskinov and Ivilina Aleksieva of IMP. The idea of the interactive module was to trace the mechanism of good governance and the need for specific budgets for individual advisory bodies. If the four components of each management are a resource – activity – product – result, how is the relationship between them made? In fact, all three components have an impact on the result, starting with the resource, which proves the need for it. Exactly in connection with this topic, a heated discussion began in the room, which was raised by the question “Does the activity of the NCIPD lead to results?”. Mr. Dolapchiev from the Union of the Blind and Mr. Velchev from the Union of War Veterans vigorously defended the thesis that their unions were representative and legitimate. Atanas Slavov replicated that once the evidence of representation, rather than results, is removed again, the substance of the dispute is shifted. While the NCIPD does not produce clear and definitive results in the form of policies and quality work, its activities remain spooky. MLSP representative – Mrs. Harizanova – defended the Council, explaining that all important documents related to disability policies were being passed through for coordination. The question, “Why are politics so crappy then?” hung even harder in the air?
The discussion continued with the topic “About Money and Pirates”, led by Ralitsa Velichkova of BCNL with main panelist Kapka Panayotova. Ralitsa presented facts related to the ever-diminishing funding for NGOs, which the government distributes through competition for the benefit of those who receive direct subsidies. This percentage drops to 0 in the 2012 budget – a fact that further obliges nonprofit legal entities to have a clear and meaningful money-spending strategy and even clearer accountability. Kapka Panyotova, said that there was a sense of distribution of some money through “conspiracy” in the society. “After the organizations that are part of the NCIPD are subsidized with BGN 5 million and there is no result – the feeling is exactly that,” she stressed and called “not to look at the money as a face value, but as a result.” Kapka gave as an example the chief of NHIF who was taking big bonuses and this would be normal if this structure had a good result. Instead, it has become an example of mismanagement and abuse, which is why the bonuses are scandalous. The sum of BGN 5 million given for the integration of people with disabilities might be sufficient if spent wisely and unacceptably large if they are simply wasted money. “Stop the Piracy,” she called out at the end of her talk.
The finale of the discussion was interesting and provocative thanks to the lecturers – Venelin Stoychev of IMP and lawyer Marin Bozhkov. They began a masterfully illustrated discussion of who should “evaluate the evaluators”. Venelin told the story of the creation of the football field and how its parameters were “invented”. According to this legend, the peasants from the North and those from the South of the United Kingdom had to find a common criterion for the size of a football field. The northerners were big, tall and strong and wanted a bigger playground. The Southerners, by contrast, were agile and mobile, but very small, and sought shorter terrain. Finally, they found a common point of contact in the dimensions, so that for some it would not be short and for others it would not be long. The conclusion in the context of public policies is that a working formula of participation must be found so that everyone can score goals. According to Venelin, the methodology for evaluating the work of the NCIPD can only help the Council to do better and prove its benefits. The lawyer Marin Bozhkov gave many interesting examples from his own practice of how a certain opaque procedure or policy could be “manifested” to the public. “Public surveillance”, in his view, is the way in which any institutional work could be objectively evaluated and this “diagnosis” served in court. In this way, the work of the NCIPD could also be monitored, and those civic organizations that are not members of the advisory body and have no voting rights could monitor. In this way, everyone will be able to score goals on the field of public disability policy. The meeting concluded with the promise of continued dialogue and creative discussion of the methodology of the NCIPD assessment. We also attach the document here so that you can comment on it, too – we want everyone to have a chance and score goals. We are waiting for your suggestions on the blog “Cripple system” www.blog.cil.bg and on the Facebook page with the same name.
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF INDEPENDENT LIVING – HOW THE EU’S NON-PROFIT POLICY DEPRECIATES THE LIVING OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
A hearing on a draft resolution on the plight of people with disabilities in Europe took place in Brussels on 9 February, triggered by stringent cuts in social budgets.
The resolution, initiated by the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL), addresses the plight of people with disabilities in Europe, driven by rigorous cuts in public spending in the social sphere. However, this “crisis measure” is in complete contradiction with a number of international treaties and internal regulations of the European Union, and the results amount to serious violations of fundamental rights of disabled people. Currently, some Member States – for example, the United Kingdom – are embarking on a restructuring and serious reduction of personal assistance and services budgets in the community, leading to a deepening of the social exclusion processes for people with disabilities. This trend undermines the ethical foundations and humane standards of the Union as a whole and leads to the extremely difficult situation of the most vulnerable part of European citizens, which is totally unacceptable. Some of Europe’s leading activists for independent living and combating poverty have presented evidence to influence the European policy of saving money for disabled people. Bulgaria’s representative and rapporteur at the hearing was Kapka Panayotova.Read More
Annual Meeting of the Center for Independent Living and friends including an analysis of the passing 2011 and a brain storm for more human and independent 2012
“We are playing a very complicated chess game with some very ordinary people” – Peter Kichashki
Hardly, someone has ever gathered so many disabled people in one place in Bulgaria. On December 16, many people with special needs gathered in Shipka Hotel to analyze what has done during the current year and to collect fresh ideas and power for changing the status quo in 2012. Mitko Nikolov and Kapka Panayotova of the CIL recalled, along with the main activists in the association, the highlights of the activity over the last 12 months:Read More
“We don’t want to be excellent at everything. Let the school give us the necessary knowledge! “
On 1st of November – the Day of the National Revival Leaders, students, parents, teachers and experts gathered together at 2nd Thomas Jefferson High school to discuss whether the Bulgarian school is teaching children for life. We are not talking about a students with excellent marks. We are discussing the future of our children in a decade of hard work and a lot of stress at school.Read More