HOUSE OF OPPORTUNITY PROGRAMME
Every year tens of thousands of young people throughout Southeast Europe leave state and foster care, taking enormous risks just to survive. Many fall prey to human traffickers, who exploit them through forced prostitution or labour, and suffer a life of degradation and poverty.
We aim to transform the lives of these vulnerable young people by opening a series of small group homes that provide them with residential training and hope for a fulfilling life. We call these homes Houses of Opportunity. FSCI began the House of Opportunity Programme in Bulgaria and, working closely with local NGOs, we have also launched Houses in Serbia, Croatia and Albania.
How Houses of Opportunity work
Equipping vulnerable young people with the skills they need to live successful, independent lives:
Houses of Opportunity enable residents to learn essential life skills and complete their education.
Stoyil joined the House of Opportunity unable to use a knife and fork. He is now a great cook.
We work with residents to help them apply for and retain a job – support at a crucial life stage.
House parents provide each resident with individual care and support in a small, family style home.
After she left state-care, Ivalya found herself with nowhere to go. Then somebody she met made her an offer to go and “play football” in Vienna. This sort of approach is a common ploy by human traffickers to draw vulnerable young people in.
Thankfully we became aware of the situation and offered Ivayla a place in a House of Opportunity. After a few months at the House Ivayla told us: “In the orphanage you learn by yourself. No one tells you whether the things you do are right or wrong and whether there is a better way to do something, the simple daily stuff. This way you learn wrong. It is as if I am starting a new life now. I learn everything over again, but now the way they are.”
The House of Opportunity kept Ivalya safe and gave her the support she needed to make positive choices – she is now married with a family of her own and told us in 2018 that “I have everything I dreamed of. I will never forget what you did for me”.
Will you help to prevent modern slavery and transform the lives of vulnerable young people like Ivalya?
EARLY YEARS EDUCATION PROGRAMME
Hundreds of thousands of children suffer extreme poverty in Southeast Europe, with the majority living in Roma communities, where prostitution and criminal exploitation are rife. These communities are often cut-off from the world outside through discrimination and lack of services. One vital missing service is education – with less than 20% of Roma children in the region completing secondary school is it any wonder that these communities act like traps for those who are born and raised there?
Thousands of Roma families cannot get access to crucial kindergartens for their children. Without this the children are shut out of the school system and so condemned to a life of poverty and desperation.
HOW OUR KINDERGARTENS WORK
Our Early Years Education Programme consists of special kindergartens tailored to individual communities. By working together with families we aim to provide a vital Pathway into education for marginalised children.
A blend of experience and local community knowledge is essential.
Basic literacy, numeracy and creative play to prepare for primary school.
Investing in families
Equipping families to keep their children learning and growing in confidence and ability.
Encouraging participation and promoting the value of education in marginalised communities.
Sevda is part of the team at the Fakulteta kindergarten in Sofia. She is a keen advocate of education in Roma communities.
“Since my early years I have been volunteering in different NGOs that work in our community. After graduating as an assistant tutor I became part of the FSCI team that works in the neighbourhood of Fakulteta where I grew up and still live. I want to be a good example for the young people in our community and to help them and their parents change their attitudes towards education and early marriages”.
Will you help to transform the lives of vulnerable children?
Things can be different
The legacy of communism and failed political reform has left Southeast European states with shared social and economic challenges. In 2015 FSCI embarked upon a programme of partnership with like-minded organisations throughout the region – helping them to effect positive change in their countries.
How the Development Programme works
We are rolling out FSCI’s proven programmes to demonstrate that effective change which benefits vulnerable people can be made when communities, NGOs, businesses and governments work together.
Identifying and working with like-minded organisations in the region, building partnerships to help us realise our shared vision.
We help our partner organisations to grow their confidence and professional skills, becoming better advocates and deliverers of change.
Replicating the House of Opportunity and Early Years Education Programmes with specialised training, support and access to funding.
Measuring impact and demonstrating the effectiveness of the programmes brings “buy-in” from governments, businesses and communities.
To make our plans a sustainable reality we need to raise substantial funds. By partnering with us as a donor, you could help us to make a step-change and realise better futures for vulnerable people throughout the whole of Southeast Europe.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME
Lack of basic education and interpersonal skills are a major barrier to young state care leavers finding employment. We believe that with training and support these young people will have a greatly improved chance of finding a job. FSCI develops social enterprises to equip House of Opportunity residents for employment and the ability to provide for themselves and, one day, their families.
HOPe Restaurant & Catering
Launched in October 2016, this initiative provided training and employment for young residents of the Sofia-based Houses of Opportunity, preparing them for success in the jobs market, with an emphasis on customer-relations, food preparation and vital soft skills.
“HOPe SOAP” engages House of Opportunity residents in productive activity, providing a sense that their contribution matters and develops communication, relationship and basic business and personal skills. The soaps they produce are sold to wedding parties, corporate events and through shops in Sofia.
WHO ARE WE?
The Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion (FSCI) works in partnership with local communities and organisations to combat poverty and marginalisation in Southeast Europe. Led by a dedicated team in Sofia, FSCI is responsible for launching these programmes throughout the greater Balkan region.
Visit www.fscinet.org to see the impact our work is making on the lives of vulnerable young people.
To help transform the lives of vulnerable young people, or to find out more, contact:
St Paul’s Church
FSCI (UK) is a Reg. Charity in England & Wales (1170914)
FSCI is a Reg. Bulgarian NGO (175633540)