The Bulgarian Red Cross implemented the Age Awareness and Advocacy of Older People Project in the period 2003-2009, with the support of the Swiss Red Cross. The project introduced the participatory approach, which turned the representatives of the third age into active participants in a lot of activities, discussions and decision-making processes of problems of their concern.
The project activities were implemented in 10 regions of Bulgaria – Montana, Plovdiv, Blagoevgrad, Lovech, Smolyan, Dobrich, Russe, Vratca and Targovishte and led to the active involvement of 1120 older volunteers.
Main principles of the project:
- Working with and by older people
Among the main tasks and activities of the project are:
- To raise public awareness and focus the attention of local communities, state institutions and the media towards the way of life and the concerns of older people;
- To establish self-help groups of older people;
- To build the capacity of older people to implement various activities in favor of their communities;
- To acquaint older people with the rights they have and to train those to undertake advocacy- based and lobbing activities;
The realization of the project contributed to social reintegration of older people over the age of 60 in more than 60 municipalities. The participatory approach applied in the project led to adequate needs assessment and definition of the most topical problems. Older volunteers from the project regions became the main actors in the participatory research “Voice of the older people” carried out in 2007. As a result of the activities performed in cooperation with other NGOs specific problems have been solved and vulnerable community members have been supported: solitary older people, people in need of medical treatment, etc.
Furthermore the BRC was recognized as an organization actively working on the issues of older people both at national and international level. A proof of that is the BRC full membership in the AGE Platform Europe (2009).