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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Countess of Frederiksborg Alexandra Christina opens a new complex for social services for children and families in Vidin

SOFIA, Bulgaria, 11 May 2011 – Today UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Countess of Frederiksborg Alexandra Christina (Denmark) opened a Complex for Social Services for Children and Families in Vidin.

She said: „As Parton of UNICEF Denmark I’ve been closely involved in the work of UNICEF for more than ten years now. I’ve also followed closely the project in Vidin right from the first days when this fine building was nothing but a ruin until today when we can be proud of its development from ‘ugly duckling’ was transformed into a ‘beautiful swan’. I’ve visited many UNICEF projects in many parts of the world over the years. But no matter where I have been, I’ve noticed with pride that children are always at the heart of UNICEF’s work. Traditions are different, cultures and traditions are too, but the work to give children the best possible chances to develop into well educated and healthy adults, respecting their rights and meeting their needs is always the same.”

Countess Alexandra Christina wished success to the project and to activities in support of the children of Vidin.

Tanja Radocaj, the UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria, made a short presentation of the services that the Complex will provide:”What we are opening today is not a building but a a wide range of services to children, families and young people.”  Mrs. Radocaj said she did hope „the facility will keep its door open all the time so that people may come here to get the support they need while the community-based services reach them and help those with needs.”

Steen Andersen, Executive Director of the Danish National Committee for UNICEF, availed of the opportunity to thank the VELUX Foundation for its generous donation and the Vidin Municipality for the effort and time put into the project implementation and also UNICEF Bulgaria as a “trustworthy and reliable partner”. Steen Andersen expressed confidence the Bulgarian Government would support the project to make it expand in scope and to apply it as a model elsewhere in the country. ”We are convinced the project will be of great benefit to the disadvantaged children in Vidin and we believe it can be replicated elsewhere in the country.”

Valentina Simeonova, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, congratulated the Danish National Committee for UNICEF on the choice of a partner, UNICEF Bulgaria, which she described as „an extremely professional team which over the years demonstrated a most systematic effort to support children and families in Bulgaria.” Mrs. Simeonova thanked specially the VELUX Foundation for its investment in the Complex:”In my view it is one of the most meaningful investments, an investment in child development.”  The Deputy Minister described the Government’s policy and effort in the deinstitutionalization process and in family support: ”All our joint work with NGO and business community partners makes us feel confident that the Government’s policy is on the right track. For that policy to be successful we need to pool efforts and resources.”

In conclusion the Deputy Minister wished the project team good luck and said: ”I do believe soon the Complex will be an attracting point for children and their families in Vidin since in addition to professional support provided there, they will make friends there.”

The opening event was attended by: Kalin Kamenov, Deputy Chairman of the State Agency for Child Protection; Yanita Nikolova, Executive Director of the Social Assistance Agency; Nikolai Zahariev, a representative of VELUX Foundation.

The Complex for Social Services will comprise three centers: a Public Support Center, a Monitored Home and a Daycare Center. Services will be free of charge and available to people from Vidin Region. The Complex will be oriented to children and young people at risk, their families, children who are placed in institutions and children who have dropped out from school.

  • The Public Support Center will provide services in the area of parental care within families, prevention of child abandonment, foster care and adoption, early childhood development (ECD), relief of children who are victims of violence, prevention of the dropping out of school of children and adolescents and preparation for independent life. An integrated approach to service provision will be employed.
  • The Monitored Home will provide temporary accommodation for adolescents upon their release from specialized childcare institutions and will help them to adapt more easily.
  • The Daycare Center will provide daily care, teaching and counseling to children at risk from vulnerable families. The Complex staff will consist of social workers, psychologists, teachers and experts as needed.

The Complex will be run by a consortium of NGOs: the Social Activities and Practices Institute (SAPI) and the Child and Space Association which were selected in a public procurement procedure. The 20-member team is made up of social workers, psychologists and other experts.

The total UNICEF contribution to the “Support to Reach the Unreachable Children” Project amounts to BGN 1.4 million contributed by UNICEF Denmark and VELUX Foundation. Some of this money was spent on the design, works, furnishing, equipment and operating costs of the Complex for one year. The funding was made available to the Vidin Municipality on the basis of an agreement signed.

For further information:

Tzvetelina Bonova
Communications and Public Relations, UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel.: (++ 359) (0)2-96-96-207
Mobile: ++ 359 (0) 882-42-44-43



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