The Finally – financial literacy for Roma project in touching its end in Bulgaria. We have go through numerous challenges during the project`s implementation such as needs assessment for financial literacy training, participation in the elaboration of the content of the training and the training tools, implementation of pilot actions with Roma and professionals. At the end of the road, HESED will organize different exploitation activities in order to raise the awareness regarding the financial literacy within the communities we are operating in, as well to provide additional tools for the professionals working with them. We have already started a range of workshops with young people on financial literacy. Besides our consultant Teodora Bochukova started her visits to the Labour offices in Sofia. The aim of the meetings is to present to the consultants the training program, to provide them the training materials and to discuss the possibilities for further collaboration. She will also visit some of the schools located next to the big Roma neighborhoods in Sofia. The exploitation activities will take place also in Kjustendil.
During the Open Day at the Faculty of Health and Social Work, Trnava University – FINALLY team members presented to the new applicants for study also the project Finally. Those interested were informed about the objectives, progress and results of the project. Candidates should take projects solved at the Faculty of Health and Social Work, Trnava University, as well as the concept of “financial literacy”. Members of the research team presented the materials from training trainers, materials intended for the education of the Roma population aged 18-30 years, photos of training of trainers, training in communities and teaching aids. Candidates were able to try games and exercises prepared for learning. The greatest interest was in the play “Romonopoly”, as well as candidates have expressed interest in the project as a whole.
During the January 2016 was confirmed next collaboration with Roma Center in Trnava (Centrum Coburgovo) with public health professionals form university level. Our goal is to increase children’s chances of successful integration into the educational process, first of all we try to provide parents and children with information on learning opportunities. During the year 2015 we started cooperation with experts from the University of Trnava, which seeks to address the situation of the Roma mothers. We organize regular meetings dealing with the issue of financial literacy, where are used educational materials produced by the project FINALLY. We have positive feed backs from mothers who attend regularly our meetings. They really like all the topics as well they are active in all tasks. They also start to do some new financial changes to carry out their daily routines with spending. We believe, that these activities will sustain and improve our collaboration.
In November 2015, representatives of HESED participated at the final conference Broaden Horizons – Networks and Experiences for Successful Roma Inclusion, in Dolenjske Toplice (Slovenia). The program of the conference was very intense and fulfilled with good practices in the field of Roma integration in education, employment, social services and research.
Our representative Dr. Savka Savova, presented the Model for Integrated Development which is the core intervention for breaking the vicious circle of poverty which HESED implements in Roma communities. The model utilises the resources of the communities by providing support for early child development and life skills education for adolescents. The model intergrates social services targeted at pregnant women and parents of children 0-3 years, alternative service for early childhood development for children 4-6 years who do not attend kindergartens (pre-school education for Roma children) and life skills training for teenagers and improvement of their professional prospects. The core services are supported by complementing services such as provision of solid food for 10 month to 3 years old children, provision of interest free loans for housing improvement (in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria). One of the additional programs targeting at the improvement of the quality of life of the Roma is the financial literacy training which could help the families to effectively manage the limited financial resources without being caught in the trap of the »sharks«. The participation of HESED in Finally project increased our capacity in providing trainings and consultations in the field of financial literacy.
Valuable contribution for the conference was the presentation of our partners from Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria. Their project coordinator Boryana Parvanova presented the program for support low-income families from all walks of life in their pursuit of decent and affordable homes.
The conference provided a lot of opportunities for exchange of ideas and good practices and inspiring experiences with colleagues from different European countries.
International conference Broaden Horizons – Networks and Experiences for Successful Roma Inclusion took place in Dolenjske Toplice (Slovenia) on November 26th and 27th 2015. More than 200 people from various countries (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, etc.) participated in this conference. The aims of these conference included networking and information and experience exchange, in more details:
- presenting results of realized researches aimed at discovering aspects of quality of life of Roma and other marginalized social groups,
- suggesting activities aimed at improving quality of life of people from these groups,
- presenting good practice examples – projects and programmes aimed at realizing mentioned goal,
- networking and sketching ideas for further joint projects.
Team members from Faculty of economics Nis actively participated in the conference programme.
Professor Srdjan Marinkovic presented during 1st day of the conference, within the session Employment opportunities – how to create and exploit them. During his presentation entitled „Financial literacy and self-employability”, he pointed out the importance of financial literacy for improving the quality of life of an individual.
On the second day of the conference, Ana Popovic presented her research within the session dedicated to exchange of experiences from various European projects. In her talk, “Consumption patterns of Roma – how to set priorities”, she presented findings of the research carried out in 6 countries within project Finally. The findings are related to consumption patterns, prioritizing, shopping practices of Roma in these countries.
Throughout whole conference, Marina Stanojevic was involved in activities on Project Market. This part of the conference served for information and experience exchange among participants of various projects, discussion on project results, networking and eventual brainstorming for further projects. Together with colleagues from project Finally, Marina has been presenting aims, activities, results and materials created during the project, to all the interested participants.
HESED`s team started the exploitation activities of the Finally – financial literacy for Roma products. The first of the range of activities was performed at 21. January 2016. Our trainers Boyan Vassilev and Teodora Bochukova performed a workshop on financial literacy with young people from Filipovitzi, Sofia. The young people are involved in a program for professional orientation and improvement of their professional prospects. The program for financial literacy was introduced to the teenagers who are at the last stage of their high school education. During the workshop the teenagers got acquainted to the innovative methodological tool, which is one of the core elements of the training program for financial literacy for Roma– the Romonopoly game and had the chance to play it. The game was evaluated to be very interesting and providing different perspective on the topic for family budget management, mostly because it incorporates elements from the traditional life style of the Roma community. The young people expressed their interest to be involved in financial literacy training in the future.
In November 2015, Codici Social Research Agency participated at the final conference of the Finally and E-Roma Resource projects, organized by Ric Novo Mesto in Doljenske Toplice. Apart from presenting Finally products to the participants and building networks with other actors in the field of Roma integration, we presented a paper in one of the plenary sessions.
The presentation held by Oana Marcu dealt with the role of social research in designing participatory processess for policy making, drawing on the example of the development of a Local Action Plan in Bologna Municipality, as a part of the Roma-net project.
The main idea of the presentation regards the effective stakeholder involvement by means of facilitation methodologies, going beyond the politics of participation by representation, too often considered a solution for the 10th basic principle of Roma inclusion.
What we should more carefully consider, we argued, is the choice of who participates and how conflict and discrimination awareness is ensured, instead of escalated. Another point is how to step ahead from face agreement to actual shared responsibility. Last but not least, participated planning should be backed up by participated evaluation, in order to close a circle between ideas, agreement, and action. These are basically some of the main challenges that an action-research framework, deeply rooted in our agency’s approach, tries to deal with, while developing and testing new instruments for large scale decision making, such as open space technology, word caffè or future search.
HESED proudly announces that our Chair Dr. Elena Kabakchieva, has been honored to be awarded with the National Order of Merit of France. The award is a highest recognition of the efforts of Dr. Kabakchieva for development of innovative social and health programs for vulnerable groups and improvement of the wellbeing of the children in Bulgaria. In the recent years Dr Kabakchieva and HESED, dedicated their efforts to develop the Model for Integrated Development (MIR) of Roma communities. The Model aims at breaking the vicious circle of poverty and providing better chances for successful social and professional integration of the Roma children.
HESED has developed a new type of social infrastructure with a positive impact on the community as a whole – the MIR centers. They are located in the immediate vicinity of neighborhoods, providing a social and psychological comfort for the people who use them. All services in the MIR centers are offered according to the needs and abilities of their users from cradle to adulthood. One of the latest achievements of the team is the capacity for providing financial literacy trainings for Roma, as a result of our participation in Finally – financial literacy for Roma Project, Grundtvig Multilateral Project, implemented in partnership with 6 European countries.
The piloting course for the financial literacy of Roma of the FINALLY project was successfully completed with the participation of 15 Roma, mainly women, that live in the settlement of Megara. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 50. The participants have followed very closely the course, have participated actively in the workshops and have enjoyed particularly the visits of external people such as a cook (explaining them cheap recipes that could be done with a little money), a successful Roma businessman and the representative of a bank. Most of the participants have appreciated a lot the course and have said that it helped them in a very practical way to deal with everyday problems they face.
In the three-year FINALLY – Financial literacy for the Roma project (funded by the European Union through the Lifelong Learning Programme), RIC Novo mesto, together with project partners from Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Slovakia, has carefully thought through every step in the creation and development of a programme to improve the financial literacy of the Roma people. Initially, using a common methodology, we carried out a study on the financial literacy needs of the Roma population in each of the six partner countries. Based on these findings, we developed a 56-hour training programme, which comprises four modules: Household budgeting – planning in advance and spending money wisely; Saving for the future; Borrowing sensibly; Increasing income.
The programme is designed for young Roma adults, who often achieve a higher level of education than their relatives, and are more receptive to learning. They are becoming increasingly independent in terms of managing their finances and are the key actors of social change.
In the next step, we developed a teaching manual which is to be used as a tool for training the educational programme providers before then being used by providers who are already qualified to teach this target group. The tools or teaching materials included within each topic of the manual also feature in the Workbook for the participants. PowerPoint presentations detailing the key points for each topic were also created. In order to assist the teaching and learning processes, we also created a new educational board game called Romonopoly, which focuses on various financial concepts and real-life financial situations.
In addition to having trained teachers, professionals, and Roma mediators to implement this training programme, we have also tested the programme and materials with the Roma target group in each partner country. On the basis of the results and feedback received from the pilot implementations, the material was further improved. The translations into all partner languages and English were published in print and electronic forms.
The programme and materials can also be modified to suit other target groups. We strongly recommend that you take full advantage of this opportunity.