Slide1Project I Can Work! Supported access to the labour market for people with intellectual difficulties is implemented with financial assistance of EUR 66 954 under the Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway EEA Grants Financial Mechanism.

The main goal of the I CAN WORK! project is to offer a model innovative form of social support that will enable one of the most vulnerable groups in society — people with intellectual difficulties — to receive effective support for inclusion and better integration into the labour market in a manner that matches the needs and capabilities of the target group. The project is implemented in partnership between Maria’s World Foundation and the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law.

Project goal:

The project goal is to empower people with intellectual difficulties and enhance their access to professional systematic and long-term support in finding and keeping jobs.

The project has the following objectives:
• develop a model for support in the process of seeking and keeping jobs on the basis of an assessment of needs and in line with applicable statutory requirements, available good practices and ownership by the relevant stakeholders;
• model validation and providing support to 30 persons with intellectual difficulties;
• organise and conduct training events for civil society organisations and social service providers to present the job seeking and keeping model developed;
• develop a proposal for the adoption of legislation governing the implementation of the model and a roadmap setting out the necessary legislative amendments with the active involvement of all stakeholders and central government institutions.

Roles of project partners:

The project partnership stems from the project objectives, which transcend the provision of support in the short-term but seek to enable the development and implementation of a systematic solution that will empower the target group, creating a possibility to alter the model of social work with people with intellectual difficulties so that they can receive support for social and work inclusion.

The role of Maria’s World Foundation as the leading organisation is related to the needs assessment and the development and implementation of the model for providing support to people with intellectual difficulties.

The role of the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law is related to the development of a proposal grounded in sound legal arguments that will ensure sustainability in model application.

Project activities:

1. Needs assessment and context analysis
Relying on the active involvement of the target groups and users, the activity aims to assess (a) the needs of the targets groups in terms of support for labour market inclusion; (b) the expectations and problems of employers, caregivers and institutions tasked with providing support to people with intellectual difficulties; and (c) the current context and new regulations in the social area, employment measures, and possibilities for vocational training and support for employment.

Interviews will be conducted and sectoral regulations and good practices will be researched.

A reference working group comprising representatives of the applicant and the partner (experts, a social worker, subject matter experts and representatives of the target group) will define the general framework and verify the recommendations drawn up.

After the analyses are finalised, a thematic workshop will be organised to present the results and discuss them with a wide range of stakeholders. The results of the discussion will be summarised in a dedicated report.

2. Development of a job seeking and keeping support model for people with intellectual difficulties
A new model for customised support to people with intellectual difficulties in seeking and keeping a job will be developed within the framework of the activity, taking into account the conclusions and recommendations on the basis of the analyses. The model will include: (a) forms, levels and approaches to education in job-related and professional skills; (b) development of social competencies for participation in the labour market; (c) internships and practice in a sheltered working environment; (d) on-the-job support, employment at the social enterprise, vocational training, etc.

3. Introduction of the model supporting job seeking and keeping by people with intellectual difficulties
Thirty (30) people with intellectual difficulties will receive support with job seeking and keeping under the activity. This will be provided in the form of a social service that will enable each user, following an individual assessment of their work and social skills, to join a customised work skills development support programme.

4. Development and implementation of a training programme on programme implementation
The activity includes promotion of the model for work and social inclusion of people with intellectual difficulties and conducting training on its implementation by other civil society organisations and social service providers. Two 3-day open door training events will be conducted.

5. Advocacy to ensure model sustainability
The activity envisages achieving sustainability through the model through its recognition in the regulations governing the new models of social services to be provided and defining its field of application within an interdisciplinary setting, linking it to employment and vocational training measures. A proposal for the adoption of a legal framework governing model implementation within the social services will be developed under the activity.

6. Project monitoring and external assessment
The activity includes gathering data and information during the course of project implementation.
At the end of the project, an external expert will be hired for the purpose of conducting an assessment of the results achieved, the implementation of the principles of sound management and efficiency and effectiveness of the funds disbursed.

A documentary will also be created under the project.

Financing organisation: Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund, first call for strategic projects, thematic priority No 3: Empowering vulnerable groups, project ACF/151, www.activecitizensfund.bg.

Project duration:
The project implementation period is 18 months from 6 November 2019 to 6 May 2021.

This document has been developed with financial support from the Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund under the EEA Grants Scheme financial mechanism. Maria’s World Foundation is fully responsible for the content of this document and the European Economic Area Grants Financial Mechanism and the Operator of the Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund may not under any circumstances be held liable for the content nor may the content be construed as the official position of either of the two organisations.

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