Starting in January 2006 the Open Society Institute- Sofia (OSI-S) implements the complex two-year project: The Next Mile of the European Civil Society Infrastructure (Boosting the potential of Bulgarian and Romanian Civil Society Organisation to improve the Social Environment) which is funded by the European Commission under the Networking Programme – Civil Society Component – Romania and Bulgaria. Partners of OSI- S within this project are: the Euroregional Centre for Democracy-Romania, the European Roma Information Office- Brussels, Belgium, and the Civil Society Development Foundation, Hungary.
The specific objective of the project is strengthening of the role of Bulgarian and Romanian Third Sector in improving social environment through improved institutional capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) and stimulation of new forms of co-operation within and among them. The first project target group encompasses CSOs and their networks in Romania and Bulgaria, like Service providers in the social sphere, Organisations directly representing vulnerable groups, Advocacy centres working for the interest of vulnerable groups,Think-tanks, research and resource centres, policy makers, engaged in the social sphere. The second target group includes representatives of vulnerable groups in Romania and Bulgaria, such as ethnic minorities (i.p. Roma), disabled persons (with physical and/or mental disabilities), children and young people with specific social problems (deviations, risk or criminal behaviour), whereas people suffering from double (multiple) marginalisation represent the project’s priority target group.
The project approach is based on the development of new forms of cooperation among Civil Society Organisations towards the provision of integrated social services to multi marginalized vulnerable groups. Some of the main activities of the project include the conduct of research studies, training sessions oriented to the improvement of capacity of Bulgarian and Romanian CSOs and their networks, preparation and distribution of information and methodology materials, a platform for delivery of consultations, personnel exchange programmes among Romanian and Bulgarian CSOs and CSOs from EU countries, activities related to spreading and adoption of good practices in the social sphere.
Through these activities the project team will strive to develop institutional relations between Bulgarian and Romanian CSOs and between them and CSOs and their networks at the level of the European Union in order to improve the quality and scope of social services which are provided by the Third sector in Bulgaria and Romania.
The duration of the project is two years.