The Health and Social Development Foundation (HESED) was founded and started its activities in 1998. The multiethnic (Roma and Bulgarian) and multidisciplinary team includes more than 35 specialists in the fields of psychology, social work, medicine, human rights protection, journalism, management, etc., and Roma community workers. The team implements programmes in three main areas: Roma community development programmes; health programmes for vulnerable groups; research in the field of behavioural change. Our publications feature in renowned scientific journals. HESED is provider of social services and services for children licensed by the Agency for Social Support and the Agency for Child Protection.

HESED’s professional team has 14 years of experience in working with Roma communities and has implemented many successful projects targeting Roma children, youth and their families in the field of education and health promotion and has set good practice examples for work with this target group.

Our organisation established the first community-based health and social center in the Roma community and the first mobile medical unit for outreach services for vulnerable groups. The establishment of the Center marked the beginning of a new approach in the efforts to create supportive environment for development and integration of the Roma community in Bulgaria. At the Centre our experts develop and evaluate modern programs targeted at:

  • Early child care and education and school dropout prevention programmes targeted at:

–        parents of children under three years of age and pregnant women – programme for skills in parenting and child care;

–        children from 4-6 and their parents – school readiness improvement programme through daily 3-hour educational sessions with the children to improve their social, cognitive, language and motor skills, and monthly sessions with their parents to enhance their parenting skills;

–        children in 1st – 4th grade – programme providing support to children in primary education to cope with the requirements of the school system; organization of extracurricular activities; and improvement of parenting skills for better support for children of school age;

  • Prevention of the institutionalisation of children at risk (children of the long-term unemployed, single mothers, prisoners, chronically ill, etc.);
  • Employment support – programme for social skills development, professional orientation and qualification;
  • Health promotion and family planning programmes targeted at young people;
  • Programmes for prevention of infectious diseases such as STIs, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis, etc.;
  • Violence prevention programme for social skills development to enhance youth’s personal development and to reduce risky behaviour;
  • Drug use prevention programmes;
  • Gender equality – empowerment of women and girls through sessions addressing gender issues in all programmes.

 

This model was assessed as a good practice and the model of community-based services was disseminated and further developed in the largest Roma settlements in the country in the framework of the National Programme for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control and the Programme for Improvement of the Control of Tuberculosis in Bulgaria implemented by the Ministry of Health and funded by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Since 2003 until now our team of experts has been engaged with the development of the strategy, capacity building of local teams, monitoring and evaluation of 14 NGOs subcontracted to provide community services in the Roma neighbourhoods. This Programme was evaluated as the best practice among all the Eastern European and Central Asian programmes of the GFAMT.

The role of HESED in the SRAP project is leader of WP5: Early Drug Use Prevention Intervention. The work package will develop and test an intervention for the prevention of early drug use and the reduction of consumption among Roma youth based on life skills-based drug education approach and the motivational interviews methodology.