From Solidarity to Success: Sofia’s Integrated Approach to Migrant Services 

Curious about a model for a one-stop locale for migrant services?

In Sofia, Bulgaria we witnessed just that while meeting with the Sofia Development Association. They are doing fantastic work by uniting with other civil society organizations to enhance their respective work to assist newcomers to Bulgaria at the Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals. Read on to find out more!

We were made aware of this work the end of May, when the consortium of ACCT partners traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria and for our Transnational Partner Meeting and were warmly welcomed by Tania Marincheshka from Association on Refugees and Migrants Bulgaria. During our 2nd in-person gathering, we had the opportunity to review the proposed activities from each partner to be used in both our in-person and online trainings, finalize the plan for our poster competition, and launch our website. We also had the chance to explore the vibrant local culinary scene in Sofia, enjoying delicious meals at an Afghan and Iraqi restaurants — if you get to visit Bulgaria, check out Khala Sara Foodz & Ashurbanipal! 

One of the highlights of our meeting was the discussion with Sevdalina Voynova and her staff from the Sofia Development Association, where we learned about the Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals. This center plays a crucial role in providing a wide array of help they were providing to migrants, including assistance with accessing the labor market, interpretation, document filling, referral to institutions, and more in 7 languages! We were impressed by the comprehensive range of services provided by the Bureau, which demonstrates this group of 15 NGO’s and the municipality’s commitment to supporting and including third country nationals into society. In 2021 alone, they were able to provide services to approximately 100 newcomers per month in one localized center – allowing folks in need of assistance to locate one spot to navigate the needs that come with moving to a new country; an exemplary model indeed. This is made possible by the project titled CONNECTION: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration actiON which is funded by European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. 

The insights gained from our meeting with the Sofia Development Association and our discussions on the Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals, and the discussion and experiences being immersed in this local context, will undoubtedly contribute to the development of our anti-racism curriculums and training programs. As this project was recently recognized as an example of a ‘good practice’ by the EU, we are excited to incorporate these learnings and their examples into our work and continue fostering civic courage and combating racism throughout the EU.  

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