The Bulgarian foundation is among 23 laureates from the EU and the UK that have received the award for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Bulgarian foundation Karin dom for its project which offered online training activities for families of children with special needs, supporting and motivating parents to continue their children’s therapy at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards went to the winning entries from 21 countries of the European Union. One prize was given to a project with a cross-border focus and one to an organisation from the United Kingdom, as a gesture meant to show that the EESC wanted to keep close ties with UK civil society despite the fact that the country has left the EU. Each winner received a prize worth EUR 10 000.
The winners were selected from a total of 250 applications submitted by civil society organisations, individuals and private companies. All of the projects had solidarity as their driving force and displayed creative and effective ways of rising to the often daunting challenges posed by the crisis.
The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the Bulgarian foundation Karin dom as the best Bulgarian candidate for the Prize, saying its project was a remarkable example of solidarity as the foundation quickly switched all of its in-person activities online to help children with special educational needs and their parents, who are among those who in the COVID-19 times faced more challenges than most.
Karin dom was announced as one of the 23 laureates in a virtual award ceremony held by the EESC on 15 February.
Handing out the prizes, the EESC’s vice-president for communication, Cillian Lohan, said:
“The EESC has repeatedly stressed that solidarity and targeted shared action are key to surviving such a pandemic. The only effective response to a crisis such as this pandemic is to act quickly, decisively, and together. There are lessons here for dealing with other crises whether they are social, economic or environmental.
Civil society has been at the forefront of all solidarity actions and without their help on the ground, the price paid for this pandemic would be much higher. All the projects we received are proof of selfless citizen and grassroots engagement, showing the contribution of civil society in this fight to be enormous. With this prize, we are acknowledging the people and organisations making a difference in these unprecedented times. It is an honour to be able to celebrate together”.
Civil Solifarity Prize – the Award Ceremony. The full list of the winners is available below and on our webpage
THE BULGARIAN WINNER
Karin dom foundation received the award as one of the entries focusing on the theme “Educational services and information on the pandemic”. The theme grouped projects providing reliable sources of news and information about COVID-19 as well as those securing continuity in education for learners of all ages and ensuring children without access to equipment and support at home were not left behind.
The Karin dom centre quickly mobilised to ensure that the children did not miss out therapy and treatment essential to their development. It also helped parents to gain knowledge and confidence to work with their children at home, teaching them how to deal with challenging behaviour resulting from disrupted schedules, how to talk to children during a pandemic, and where to turn for further support.
During the online official ceremony, the executive director of Karin Dom – Maya Doneva thanked for the award on behalf of the whole team and said she was proud of what Karin Dom has achieved. She shared that as an organization our main goal and priority is to provide children and families with quality and timely support. And the award determined, both for the whole team and for all children and families with whom we managed to switch to digital communication and continued to work despite of all difficulties. Maya Doneva added that she was very proud of the award received and congratulated all participants for the achievements and quick response in the conditions of COVID-19, as well as for the proposed wonderful initiatives.
Other Bulgarian candidates who competed for the EESC prize also submitted high quality projects. For example, the initiative by the Foundation Compassion Alzheimer Bulgaria aimed to offer support for people living with dementia and their families during the pandemic, including a few fundraising campaigns to raise money for two specific nursing homes (to offer music therapy), a podcast with journalism students, and a guidebook with good practices.
“Today, we are not applauding only our 23 winners. We are taking our hats off to all of Europe’s civil society and to so many of its organisations, companies and individuals who have shown and who keep showing unprecedented solidarity, courage and civic responsibility in these difficult and trying times”, Mr Lohan said.
The projects and initiatives run by citizens and civil society in many ways complemented efforts undertaken by Member States to cushion the blows of the crisis and were even ahead of them in some areas, such as the production of face masks at local and regional level, the EESC said.
Compared to the entries received for the Civil Society Prize in previous years, the EESC saw an increased number of applications from informal or less well-established organisations, which clearly demonstrates the spirit on the ground. There were also fewer entries from some countries that were less severely hit during the first wave of the pandemic or from those with stronger welfare systems.
THE PRIZE CRITERIA
The EESC launched the prize in July 2020 with the theme “Civil Society against COVID-19”, announcing that it would be an exceptional, one-off award replacing its trademark Civil Society Prize. The aim was to pay tribute to Europe’s civil society who actively and selflessly engaged in acts of solidarity from the very first days of the pandemic.
The contest was open to individuals, civil society organisations and companies whose projects had to be strictly not-for-profit and not more than 50% publicly funded. They had to be directly linked to COVID-19, specifically aiming to fight the virus or to tackle its consequences.
Each year, the EESC’s flagship Civil Society Prize honours civil society organisations and/or individuals whose projects celebrate European identity and common values in a particular field of work. It has been awarded since 2006.
Most projects targeted vulnerable groups or people most affected by the crisis such as the elderly or young people, children, women, minorities, migrants, the homeless, medical personnel or employees and employers. As regards the content of the projects, they focused on five main themes: food supply and assistance to vulnerable groups, medical equipment, advisory services, educational services and information on the pandemic, and culture.
The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The EESC hopes the Civil Solidarity Prize will enhance the visibility and raise awareness not only of the winning projects but also of many other creative citizens’ initiatives taking place in the EU.