Minister Shalapatova: There is a resource of BGN 70 million for the development of the social and solidarity economy



"Nearly BGN 70 million will be invested in the social and solidarity economy sector in the coming years under the Human Resources Development Program and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP)," said Minister of Labor and Social Policy Ivanka Shalapatova time of working visit to Varna.

She discussed with representatives of the municipality and heads of social services in the region, which work mainly with people with multiple disabilities with a focus on learning work habits and their inclusion in sheltered employment, the opportunities for the development of social and solidarity economy enterprises in the region. Minister Shalapatova also presented the measures of the Agency for People with Disabilities to stimulate entrepreneurship and employment among people with reduced working capacity.

During the meeting, heads of social services stated to the Minister of Labor and Social Policy that the consultations and information they receive from the team of the Regional Center for the Development of the Social Economy are very useful for them to learn about the possibilities for upgrading their activity. Varna is one of the six cities chosen to be located in the so-called focus points under the "Development of the Social Economy" project, for which about BGN 27 million have been earmarked under the NRRP. The other cities are Plovdiv, Lovech, Burgas, Blagoevgrad and Gabrovo. The main goal of the focal points is to promote the digitization of work processes in social enterprises, to increase their visibility and competitiveness.

Minister Shalapatova emphasized that during the preparation of the 2024 Budget, an increase in the salaries of social workers will be foreseen. "We will also prepare a Strategy for the management and development of human resources in the social sphere, which will include standards for the competencies and education of social workers, working conditions, pay and the quality of social work," she said.

Later in the day, Minister Shalapatova got acquainted with the activities of the Center for sheltered employment – Akademika bistro, which employs 15 young people with multiple disabilities.

She also visited one of the last four medico-social care homes for children, which has not yet been closed. It cares for about 60 children, all with serious health problems. The home also operates a day care center that provides complex services for children and their families, including kangaroo care for premature babies, rehabilitation and medical care, work with parents, etc. Recently, the center also offers mobile care in children's homes, with which families are supported so that they do not abandon them.

Minister Shalapatova congratulated the team of the home for what they have achieved in supporting children and families. She suggested as a good practice that the offered services should be upgraded by encouraging work with nurseries and kindergartens, since there are early symptoms of problems in children's development that teachers fail to recognize.