Project: ‘I CAN WORK! Supported access to the labour market for people with intellectual difficulties’

Project 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.

mwf logo 1 BCNL Active citizens fund

20190613 153500Project: ‘Creative Laboratory for People with Intellectual Difficulties’

Objective of the project:

The project will set-up a creative laboratory for people with intellectual difficulties at Worlds Day Care Centre. The aim is to foster the clients’ ability to express themselves and develop their creative potential.
The Lab will offer hands-on work sessions in four creative modules (pottery, painting, drama and music) in line with the clients’ interests and preferences as well as visits to art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. Actors, social workers and volunteers will be involved in these activities.
The created artworks will be presented at an exhibition.

Main outcomes:

1. Six hands-on sessions in each of the four thematic modules.

2. Involvement of volunteers.

The volunteers will take part in the hands-on sessions and help organise the visits at cultural events. They will support the group leader and will document the process including the results achieved.

3. 10 visits at cultural events related with the themes of the modules. The objective of this activity is to provide insights of the various arts and bring the Day Care Centre clients closer to the cultural life of Sofia.

4. An exhibition – special event for presenting the artworks created in the hands-on sessions.

Financing organisation: TELUS International Europe

Duration of the project: May 2019 – June 2020

EU flag Erasmus vect POSProject ‘Innovative approach to training adults with intellectual difficulties’

The project aims to support implementation of new approaches to ‘learning by doing’ concept for adults with intellectual disabilities through improving their competences for labor and social integration in accordance with the principles of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and good European practices.
Three mobilities for participation in three structured trainings will be implemented within project activities. The topics of the trainings include emotional intelligence, innovative methods for education, training and quality management in education.

As a result of the trainings a new approach will be identified and implemented to improve the quality management system of the Foundation.
Project participants are specialists involved in social and educational work with persons with intellectual disabilities.
Project activities will be promoted within the activities of the Foundation.

The project will contribute to improvement of support offered towards persons with intellectual disabilities and implementation of innovative approach to their training as well as personal development of the participants, enhancement of their soft skills and multicultural attitudes.

Financing organisation: Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Duration of the project: from 1 September 2019 until 31 August 2020

Gerb Sofia

Project: ‘Digital skills and digital connectivity for people with intellectual difficulties’

Project goal:

The project aims to make 21st century digital communication tools accessible to people with intellectual difficulties and enhance interest in digital skills, safe use and an accepting attitude on the part of users and their families. Through the development of digital skills the project will promote and encourage better communication with other people with and without disabilities and help the target group overcome isolation while supporting the process of building skills for independent living.


1. Implementing appropriate activities for building skills, interest and an accepting attitude among young people with intellectual difficulties to the development and use of digital skills
2. Development and implementation of a vlogger programme featuring young people with intellectual difficulties
3. Vlog promotion

Programa Evropa Logo

Financing organisation: Sofia Municipality through its Europe Programme
Project implementation period: 1 April 2020 - 30 October 2020

IMG 1977Project: ‘Advocacy and self-advocacy of people with intellectual difficulties from the Worlds Day Care Centre’

Project goal:

Development of advocacy and self-advocacy of people with intellectual difficulties from the Worlds Day Care Centre through:
• Development of a self-advocacy group and self-advocacy skills and raising the level of self-advocacy activity in 2020.
• Raising the active inclusion and visibility of people with intellectual difficulties in society and promoting the cause of acceptance of people with disabilities.


1. Participation in a self-advocacy group, advocacy initiatives, Annual General Assembly of the National Platform of Self-Advocates
2. Organising training events for self-advocates
3. Publishing materials dedicated to the activities and achievements of people with intellectual difficulties

Financing organisation: Bulgarian Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID)
The project implementation period is from 1 April 2020 to 30 October 2020.

Gerb Sofia

Project: ‘Let Us Talk about Social Services’

Project goal:

The project aims to approbate an innovative approach to the active inclusion of vulnerable groups, citizens and stakeholders in mutual dialogue to discuss the support, content, modus operandi and attitude of social services and social workers.

The project envisages the active involvement of vulnerable groups and citizens in discussions about assistance and social work in a manner that is understandable and accessible to them and aims to prevent the key threat of social work becoming discredited due to disinformation and loss of interest in the wider community in the work carried out in the area of social work.


1. Conducting surveys and opinion polls and stakeholder engagement
2. Organising meetings and/or online discussions (webinars) with a wide range of participants to discuss key issues relating to the development of social services and support available to vulnerable groups, including support during pandemics and periods of social isolation.
3. Drawing up and publishing a summary of the results

Financing organisation: Sofia Municipality through its ‘Social Innovations’ Programme
The project implementation period is from 16 April 2020 until 16 November 2020.

 DSC8345Project ‘Let Us Save Bon Appetit by Maria’s World under the #SaveTheSaviors programme’

Project goal:

Support the direct business needs and costs of the social enterprise Bon Appetit by Maria’s World.

Owing to the project a new activity will be implemented at the social enterprise – daily preparation of a separate packaged lunch menu from high-quality ingredients in compliance with the highest hygiene standards.

The menu is prepared by a professional chef and the orders are placed at the Day Care Centre.

For the families of people with disabilities and other people in need, the menu is available at a discount.

The activity aims to ensure long-term employment for the senior chef and the three young people with intellectual difficulties who work at the social enterprise.

The menus are published daily on the Facebook page of the Foundation and at Bon Appetit Catering by Maria’s World.

Financing organisation: The Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law and Accenture Bulgaria via the #SaveTheSaviors programme
Duration: April – June 2020

20181117 092643Project ‘Addressing the Consequences of COVID-19 – Keep the Social Enterprise Bon Appetit by Maria’s World Going’

Project goal:

To ensure that the social enterprise Bon Appetit by Maria’s World is able to continue to operate in the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project will ensure that Bon Appetit by Maria’s World is able to continue to operate, providing training to young people with intellectual difficulties in order to develop their professional skills for food preparation and the provision of catering services to various events and occasions. The social enterprise employs three persons with intellectual difficulties and offers lunch menus at a discount to people in need.

Funding: Funds raised by employees of UniCredit BULBANK AD and the UniCredit Foundation.
Project duration: May-November 2020.

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