Symposium “Reforms for Change”

On December 15, 2022, the “Reforms for Change” symposium was held, as a final event of the “Supporting the Modernization and Deinstitutionalization of Social Services” project, funded by the European Union. A Fair of licensed social service providers was also held within the event.

In the presence of 160 professionals who work in the social protection system at the central and local level, social service providers at the local level, representatives of institutions, international organizations and embassies in the country, the achieved results of the Project were presented, especially in the part of deinstitutionalization of social protection, the establishment of social services at the local level, strengthening the capacities of municipalities in the domain of social protection, as well as strengthening the capacities of service providers and the licensing process. In the past four years, the project worked together with the Ministry of Social Policy, the Office of Social Activities, the Delegation of the EU, ZELS, the administration from 25 municipalities and a large number of social professionals, and made a great contribution to the improvement of social protection and the development of quality social services at local.

During the first plenary session, the round table “Modernization of social services – how to proceed?”, Mr. Enver Huseyin, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Stefan Hudolin, Head of Cooperation in the Delegation of EU, Ms. Sanela Shkrielj, Member of Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, Mr. Goran Gerasimovski, Mayor of the Municipality of Centar, Mr. Romel Velev, Chairman of the Red Cross of the Republic of North Macedonia and Ms. Maria Marinakou, Team Leader of the project. This session was moderated by Mr. Nafi Saracini, Project Manager at EUD.

The session was dedicated to the changes, progress, achieved results of the project and its contribution to the realization of social reform, deinstitutionalization, licensing of service providers and development of a network of service providers at the local and regional level.

Deputy Minister Enver Hussein emphasized that the team from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, together with the project team, spent the past three years putting a lot of effort and energy into establishing and improving the knowledge, competencies and practices of all stakeholders in social protection. From cooperation and intensive communication with decision-makers, with the creation of processes important for the realization of social services, to the strengthening of skills for the practical application of legal and by-law regulations.

“With all the challenges we faced in the past few years, side by side with our colleagues we looked for solutions and overcame obstacles, in the interest of citizens, children and their families, following the prescribed steps in the national documents. On behalf of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, I would like to thank the Delegation of the European Union for its support with such and other projects that really help the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in realizing the set strategic and program goals” Huseyin emphasized.

Mayor Gerasimovski commented on the social projects implemented by the Centre Municipality, through which citizens get good living conditions, regardless of their religion, nationality and social status.

“We at Centar are particularly proud of the project ‘Care of the elderly at home’. The Municipality of Centar is the first municipality that came out with a real step and concrete activity for our oldest citizens. Through cooperation with the civil organization “Humanost”, licensed caregivers provide care to the oldest residents of the municipality 3 times a week for 2 hours while performing their daily household duties. Very soon, the Family Care Respite Service will start working, which will be the result of another collaboration with our partners from UNDP. Users of this service will receive 24-hour care for a maximum of 15 days a year. It will also be characteristic of the service that the caregivers who will be included in the project will have training for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” said Gerasimovski.

The president of the Red Cross of RSM, Prof. Dr. Romel Velev emphasized the established social services for the care and assistance of the elderly and persons with disabilities in the national society, which cover a large number of vulnerable target groups of the population. He particularly emphasized the continuous investment in the delivery of quality services to end users and the introduction of innovative development social services such as the “Emergency Button” service intended to help the elderly and persons with disabilities, the dedicated transport of persons who are in a life-threatening condition , as well as future plans to open a social medical center.

In the second part of the event, two workshops were held, followed by the awarding of certificates to the successful social professionals.

The first workshop, entitled “Strengthening of social services” was dedicated to social reform, implementation of the deinstitutionalization strategy, the establishment of a micro system for monitoring and evaluation, the need to continue and establish a macro and national system for monitoring and evaluation, licensing of providers of social services, challenges, lessons learned and results achieved.

The session was moderated by Iva Mihajlovska, Advisor for Disability at MTSP, and presentations were made by Ankica Ivanovski, head of the IPA Sector at MTSP, Vladimir Lazovski, SOS Children’s Village Macedonia and Alexandra Georgievska, M&E expert within the project.

The second workshop “Strengthening local capacities” was moderated by Drita Aslani, head of the department for decentralization and development of social services at the local level in MTSP, and presentations were made by Blagorodna Shopova from ZELS, Natasha Dimevska, head of the Cabinet of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs politics and Mrs. Biljana Dukovska, expert in the development of local plans. It was discussed about the developed community based social services, the need for the development of local social plans, the creation of social councils, the permanent strengthening of the capacities of all stakeholders at the local and national level.

In the continuation of the event, the team leader of the project, Maria Marinakou, addressed the participants, and the documentary film “Belles” was shown, as an inspiring presentation about the need and benefits of deinstitutionalization.

Finally, at the symposium, successful and fully engaged social professionals were awarded advanced certificates for participation in basic or advanced training for the development of social services, realized within the project, as well as certificates for participation in the piloting of the monitoring system and evaluation and development of social services at the local level.

In parallel with the symposium, h. Marriott also hosted the Fair of Licensed Social Service Providers. About fifteen organizations, social service providers had the opportunity to present their products, works and services they provide for their users. At the same time, the fair was an opportunity to network for future joint work in the field of social protection.