Our Story

20 years working in Bulgaria and beyond.

1997

The work begins in Bulgaria

Parent organisation The Trussell Trust (TT) began work in Bulgaria in 1997. At first, TT worked to relieve crisis through street-feeding programmes in Sofia. Work was then focused on children in and around the town of Botevgrad – particularly those children who were residents at Lipnitsa Orphanage/School.

2001-06

Building a foundation

Humanitarian projects developed from the Trust’s involvement at Lipnitsa – Roma community improvement schemes, health projects and a Christmas box appeal (generating Christmas presents in the UK and distributing them in Bulgaria), among others. The work with orphanages identified a particular problem – those young people leaving the institutions at the age of 18 were left completely on their own, with no help whatsoever as they tried to make their way in the hostile and exploitative world.

2007

The first House of Opportunity

In 2007 TT opened its first House of Opportunity (HOP) near Botevgrad. HOPs are small group homes that provide two-year residential programmes for young State-care leavers (18 years old +). This helps these vulnerable young people to make the difficult transition from care to independence by helping them complete or continue their education and assisting them to find employment. In this way the young people are able to have every opportunity to have a normal, fulfilling life, rather than slip into extreme poverty, or become prey to human-traffickers and other criminals – common outcomes for this neglected group.

2008-13

FSCI Bulgaria is established

In 2008 TT established a new organisation – The Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion (FSCI), which assumed responsibility for delivering TT’s vision for the work in the Balkans, with TT remaining a full partner in the work. Learning from the pilot project in Botevgrad, development of HOPs began in earnest and the second House was opened in 2010, with the third following in 2011. The first HOP in Sofia was opened in 2013.

2014

Beyond Bulgaria

On the understanding that many of the serious social exclusion problems FSCI was familiar with in Bulgaria were shared experiences throughout Southeast Europe, a long-held plan was put into action. TT and FSCI researched like-minded NGOs and established partners throughout the Balkans in 2014/15. Through these Partners HOPs have been launched in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania and EYE projects in Albania and Moldova, in addition to Bulgaria.

2015

A vital pathway into education

FSCI began funding a small kindergarten in a Roma community in Stara Zagora after seeing what a difference the project was making in the lives of children and families there. In 2015 FSCI established its Early Years Education Programme (EYEP) and opened a kindergarten in the Roma community of Fakulteta, in Sofia. The project helps to provide a vital pathway into education for marginalised Roma children.

2016

A new chapter begins

Needing a project that allowed “in-house” training and employment for the young people in its Houses of Opportunity, FSCI launched an ambitious Social Enterprise programme, HOPe Restaurant, in autumn 2016.

In December 2016 FSCI (UK) was founded for the purpose of taking on the responsibility from The Trussell Trust for UK and European fundraising and support for the programmes run by FSCI in Southeast Europe.