Project Partner: ZOV Bulgaria
The project in Bulgaria is in conjunction with ZOV Bulgaria, a registered charitable organisation both in Bulgaria and the UK that supports vulnerable children in Bulgaria. Volunteers from the University of Birmingham and Lancaster University volunteer in community-based day centres and family centres, including those for for disabled children, in the Veliko-Turnovo region as care and activity assistants. This project is one of InterVol’s longest standing projects (formerly known as OXAB) and has been running successfully since 2004.
A key element of this project is that the funds raised support ZOV Bulgaria’s innovative year-round student mentoring project. This uses Bulgarian university students as mentors to ensure long-term impact for the graduates of the centres that we volunteer in to break the cycle of poverty. InterVol and ZOV support the ongoing process of deinstitutionalisation, the move away from large orphanages to foster care and community-based care, in Bulgaria through supporting community-based care in day centres for disabled children and smaller family centres that are replacing orphanages as the Bulgarian government phases those out by 2025. The local project coordinator, Katia Zlatkova, is a member of the regional committee for deinstitutionalisation and an academic in the fields of at-risk youth, education and social work. All volunteers will be DBS checked and will receive child protection training in the United Kingdom and orientation in Bulgaria.
As this project works in a range of different centres the age and abilities of the children vary. While with some placements, you might be organising sports and other outdoor activities, or, for example art or drama, in others the children will be less able and less active, and so your work would be restricted to more basic interactions, and to supporting the staff around the centre. The project works during the summer holidays in Bulgaria where the centres are under more strain and need support as resources and time are very limited.
Skills required: Experience of supporting and running activities for children, strong communication skills, interest in social welfare and care is desirable.
Length: 2-4 weeks negotiable
Number of volunteers: Groups of 4 volunteers.
- Bulgaria project handbook (PDF), please click here.
- Volunteer blog from 2017 ZOV volunteer Olivia Dunphy.
- Volunteer blog from 2017 ZOV volunteer Sophie Herbert.