THE RELIEF FUND FOR ROMANIA LTD
REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 JULY 2015

(Please note: This is our latest official report - next one for 2015/2016 is due in 2017).

The members of the trustees, who are the trustee directors of the Relief Fund for Romania Limited present their report and the audited financial statements for the period 31st March 2014-July 2015.


WHO ARE WE?

We are a British charity, based in the UK, that raises funds and spends them in Romania.

We have 2 full time charity staff and about 15 charity shop staff.

All our trustees are British citizens of Romanian origin.

We were formed by prominent Romanian exiles resident in the UK in 1989 after the collapse of the dictatorship and were instrumental in publicising the appalling plight of orphans and others in need.

We played a major part in coordinating the enormous aid response from all over the UK and transported huge quantities of emergency supplies. We helped to network many independent aid efforts. In recent years we have set up and run various long-term sustainable projects.


WHAT WE DO

We support various charity projects helping the children, the sick, the elderly and other groups in need in Romania by providing financial and material aid and promoting awareness. We mainly fund those Romanian charities with whom we work closely on long-term community based projects. Occasionally we fund charity projects run by independent Romanian groups ie with whom we aren’t so closely involved.

All funded organisations submit quarterly financial and project reports and we visit the projects in Romania.


REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES APRIL 2014 - July 2015

We experienced difficult fundraising conditions due to the increasing difficulty of acquiring temporary charity shops – our main source of fundraising – mainly owing to the emergence of commercial "pop up shops" which take vacant retail units on a temporary basis, usually while paying pay rent.

Nevertheless we continued to try to help the most disadvantaged in Romania. Specifically:


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In the Mental Health arena, we helped various adult psychiatric institutions in Bacau County by funding the artist and musician Vali Racila’s work as the Arts and community reintegration therapist.

Vali rotates between various centres, mainly organising arts events for the several hundred residents. His unofficial role is to act as an independent observer in various institutions, and ensure that everyone is valued as an individual with feelings and human rights. Vali also acts as an unofficial liaison person helping to organise visits by experts, teachers or volunteers coming from countries like the UK, Belgium, and Switzerland to help in these institutions and other local centres. Sadly we had to stop Vali’s monthly funding towards the end of this period - hopefully temporarily.


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M.S.Curie Hospital Bucharest / aka The Budimex. Our long standing association with this hospital continues. We employ a psychologist to run a play therapy and educational program with the children on the Surgical Unit / First Floor. Besides providing toys, games, stationary and books the psychologist provides counseling to the parents and children before and after surgical interventions.

In addition we also provide ad hoc funding to other parts of the hospital and help to the medical staff – notably for training costs.


Our main partner organisation is Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar

In addition to the above, we continued funding our main partner organisation Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar (Community Support Foundation), Bacau: (FSC) - though sadly at a somewhat reduced rate during this period.

We formed FSC from our existing projects and senior staff in 1997. They are now one of the leading charities in Romania and have won many national awards for their work.

In particular we help fund FSC’s crucial “core costs” – eg salaries office costs etc, which sadly most funders do not think are an essential part of running a viable organisation. The rest of the core funding comes from local authority grants and their own fundraising.

This year FSC directly helped over 10,260 people with their 130 employees.


Highlights of FSC’s activities

- in their own words

2015 started with a huge financial constraint as we were affected by the lack of funding from the Ministry of Work and Social protection. Because of a single paper missing in the file when we applied for funding at the end of 2014 for 2015 they rejected our application. We formally complained and explained that we did have the missing paper and that this decision would affect 500 sick elderly and 60 employees. In spite of the appeals and several meetings with high level director of the Ministry in Bucharest they refused to fund our application.

The consequence was dramatic, as the funding line was covering 30% of the cost of the home care for rural areas. We had to cut hours of care, reduce the number of employees and we sent more funding requests to several companies. The result was encouraging as Vodafone has helped with 10 salaries and luckily Relief Fund for Romania obtained a large donation that enabled us to keep another 10 carers.

This experience demonstrates once more that the state should do more in terms of evaluating the need, planning and funding the so much needed services for the population. The service provision should not be left at the capacity or willingness of an NGO to provide.

We raised this point at several national meetings organized by the NGO networks.

FSC has been active at national level in supporting various initiatives of the formal networks such as SeniorNet, FONPC (child protection) with the hope that the authorities will, eventually react to the requests of the NGOs. Some of the raised issues are:

  • The need for a national strategy and plan set up by the Government for developing social services and funding them in Romania
  • Set up standards of care and costs for the services which will establish the financial need for sustaining the services in Romania
  • Contracting of the services to the NGOs or other accredited service providers

FSC has been providing a series of services that should, in fact, be provided by the state, or at least funded by the state.

We celebrated in June 18 years since FSC was officially registered (back in 1997).

We had a general meeting with staff and supporters. We looked at old images and videos of the early start activities and had a moment remembering Stefan Ciobanu (RIP) and his contribution in the organisation.

It started with a handful of people setting out to develop in Bacau health, social and educational services that were much needed. In these 18 years FSC became one of the most active and best known organisations in the country.

Our interventions targeted over 20 communities, some of them being the poorest in Romania.

We have implemented 85 projects, to the support of over 20,000 direct beneficiaries.

We received 30 national and international awards, as recognition to the professionalism of our activities.

We became a public utility provider (in 2005) and we work in partnership with the most important county institutions and charity organisations from the UK, Norway, France, Switzerland and Germany.

At present we are implementing 7 major projects in 8 Day Centres for children, 2 Day Centres for the elderly, a residential complex for the elderly and a Sheltered Workshop.

Our good performance, results and image made Vodafone Foundation choose us as their grant managers for the N-E region.

We selected 14 projects from the region (2/county) that are being funded 7,000 Euro each by Vodafone. Vodafone will cover administrative costs for us which is great! This project enables us to improve our skills on project evaluation and audit and might bring future opportunities for FSC.

We continued to stay focused on service delivery and to keep a good working relationship with the local partners. In the quarter we had several high level visits to the organisation from the Norwegian and Swiss Embassies.

The Norwegian Ambassador wanted to see how we continue the work started with the Norwegian funding in 2009. She was most impressed to see that we managed to keep all the work going and develop new partnerships.

The Swiss Embassy was also impressed by our “model of community care” that is based on a working partnership with the local communities. They said they were looking for such a model and didn’t realise we have it working well in Bacau rural areas.

FSC was invited to be part of a dialogue group (among other NGOs) at the Ministry of Work with the aim to look at improving the legislation and set up strategies for social services at national level. Hopefully this time there will be a finality to the dialogues not just talks and nothing concrete out of it.

The activity is structured on two major areas:

1) Integrated services for the elderly:

Home care services:

a) 1 team in Bacau (including nursing care)
b) 11 teams in rural areas: We now work in: Huruesti, Vultureni, Motoseni, Stanisesti, Rachitoasa, Colonesti, Dealu Morii, Glavanesti, Gaiceana, Corbasca and Podu Turcului

c) Day care services: 1 centre in Bacau and one in Motoseni-Fintinele

d) Residential care services, the “Village of the seniors”: to assure nursing care for very ill, old and difficult to care at home people. Capacity 35 people.

 

2) Integrated services for child and family:

a) Day centres for children, we now cover the following locations:

i) Mosaic Centre and the Glue Club Bacau

b) The 6 Glue Clubs in: Panu, Godinesti, Fantinele, Podu Turcului, Dealu Morii and Colonesti. Luncani and Letea Veche we only assure support, supervision and transfer of know how to the local team.

c) Support for the families: social care, counseling, etc.

d) Educational grants for the children from rural areas to go to high school in the city and their mentoring: we currently help 110 poor village children to go to high schools in the city.

 

3) Combined arts for special needs

a) The Impreuna Network*

b) Impart team: training and support to the educational activities of the organization

* Impreuna initiative: ie the national Community Arts Network which exists to bring together both practitioners and beneficiaries who are involved in Community Arts for people with special needs.
The network consists of over 1800 professionals working in various fields: educators, psychologists, carers, doctors, nurses, and teachers specializing in children and adults with special needs.

 

SUPPORT PROGRAMMES

The Volunteers Programme

Structure:

- New entry: for the very young volunteers, 9th grade

- Performers: title of the volunteers after 1 year of practice

- Seniors: volunteers after 3 years of work

 

Various services for rural communities:

a) Community meetings

b) Social care

c) Community transport

 

Fundraising & Income generating activities

a) Activ Mosaic unit: Development of arts, decorations, jewelries, etc.

b) Fundraising

The Community Awards Gala remains an excellent opportunity to interact with the business community and mass media.

We continue to dedicate most of our resources to helping people living in poor rural areas and we continue to believe that only “together we can do more” as our efforts were joined by numerous sponsors, friends and true partners.

 

Some highlights of the year

These results were appreciated and recognized at local, national and international level:

Our biggest achievement is the provision of direct services to 10,260 people through 130 employees.

70% of our beneficiaries come from rural areas, 26% are children, 50% are older people and 24% are adults.

 

Over the 16 years we have implemented 78 projects supporting over 20,000 direct beneficiaries. We received over 25 national and international awards, as recognition to the professionalism of our activities. We became a public utility provider (in 2005) and in the last two years achieved the certification ISO 9001:2008.

At present we are implementing 7 major projects in 8 Day Centres for children, 2 Day Centres for the elderly, a residential complex for the elderly and a Sheltered Workshop.

Together with our traditional partners: the Relief Fund for Romania aswell as Romaniahjelpn-Norway, Bacau County Council, local councils and the Ministry of Work, we maintained the services and the number of beneficiaries, helping 10,873 people in 2013.


Some highlights of the year

These results were appreciated and recognized at local, national and international level:

Our biggest achievement is the provision of direct services to 10,873 people through 110 employees.

70% of our beneficiaries come from rural areas, 26% are children, 50% are older people and 24% are adults.

 

Strategic planning for FSC:

We had a long meeting with the project coordinators with the aim to set the future development steps for the organisation.

We discussed the constraints and tried to find solutions for the near and long term future.

We will continue to attract resources for the continuation of the work as all of the services are still needed in the national context.

Together with Muzika Charitable Trust we organised a training session on Sherborne Therapy (movement for special needs people).

The training was sustained by specialists from UK Janet Sparkes and Penny Rance.

They provided two levels of training and issued certificates to the participants.

Those willing to become trainers in the field can follow a third level and give evidence on the practice and after that can become trainers.

Several of the FSC staff will follow this line so eventually we can provide the training under FSC/Impreuna Network.

 

 

 

 

We organised the painting exhibition „ Ageless painters”. The event was hosted by the Galleries Noblesse.

The collection of paintings includes 58 works of the most talented elderly, beneficiaries of the day centre „Dr. Stefan Ciobanu”.

These paintings are presenting very different themes, especially landscapes, portraits, which are impressive in the diversity of styles, colours, and the optimism and creativity they express.

The event turned into a proper art event, with a piano concert, performed by two very talented volunteers from FSC and with the launch of a new collection of decorations and jewellery hand made by the children and volunteers in the Activ Mozaic Workshop.

This exhibition is a clear proof of the fact that anyone can be creative, irrespective of age, former profession of social status. We also want to emphasise that the elderly around us can have a very active life, despite the common misconceptions about this age group.
The exhibition will travel around the city in various nice public places.


Milly Village for the Elderly

We have one year since the opening!
In this year we managed to offer good quality care services to over 50 elderly. The place is cosy, atractive, full of life and activities and offers a great alternative to living alone, suffering and being sad in blocks of flats. The residents can finaly feel at home in houses located in nice suroundings, with flowers, farms, tress and no stress for shoping, cooking or going to see the doctor.
The model was shown on the National ProTV and the waiting list is already long.
The service is self sustainable already through the fees paid by the beneficiaries or their families.

 


FSC was invited by the Vodafone Foundation Romania to continue the strategic partnership on care of the elderly programs and received funding, 41.000 euros, for the project

„The right to a decent old age!”

We are grateful to Vodafone Foundation as they reacted quickly to our appeal for funding when the Ministry of Work cut our funding for this year.

 

We organized the 14th Community Awards Gala in May.

This year’s event was the most successful of all as we had larger participation and support of the companies. The message was “we have to continue the care for the old and sick elderly, please join in and help”.

The results were:- 5 diamond sponsors, 6 silver sponsors, 11 regular sponsors and 17 companies contributed with sponsorships and donations; we had 4 media partners.

Here are the main financial figures of the Gala:

Total amount resulting from sponsorships and donations – approximately 47.750 euro:

- 34.000 Euros from the sponsors of the event,
- 13.750 Euros from individual donations and sponsorships for social packages, raffle tickets, and the auction;
- 250 participants to the event


Plus: 6 articles in the local media (Desteptarea, Ziarul de Bacau), and on the local or NGO blogs; 3 TV news reports on the local channels Realitatea TV Bacau and other news slots, promoting the event and sponsors one the public screens; promotion inserts for the sponsors after the Gala in the local newspapers; electronic banners on the websites of the 4 media partners

 

 

 

 

 

 


Visit by the Norwegian Ambassador

The visit was a follow up after FSC implemented, with money from the Norwegian grants, an ample programme of community care dedicated to the poor rural areas.

The delegation visited two of the day centres Club with Glue in Motoseni and Panu, met with the two mayors and the home care teams and also made a home visit to an old lady helped by the team.

We emphasised the need for development and funding of these services and the Ambassador promised to intermediate meetings with high level government and officials.


Charity concert “Bridge between generations”

The concert was organised by the Volunteers with the aim to raise money for the summer schools.

We had over 1000 participants and raised about 2000 Euro.

The event was pleasant and it was a combination of performances sustained by the volunteers, older people and artists.


 

 

National Conference on “The Need for developing health, social and educational services in rural Romania” in Bucharest.

On the 2nd and 3rd of April FSC organised in Bucharest the National Conference “The Need for developing health, social and educational services in rural Romania”with the aim of informing the participants and raising awareness regarding the need for services provided by NGOs, of debating which are the priorities and presenting solutions and Best Practice Models from NGOs providing such services. There were 100 participants from every region of the country.

The conference was funded by the Swiss Government and we had several Swiss guests among the speakers.


Unfortunately no Government high official was there which shows the attitude of the people in charge towards the services in Romania.


Graduation Day!

We thanked our volunteers on stage for their special contribution to the organisation. Some of them “graduate” from the volunteers programme and continue their education at universities or jobs. At the same event we congratulate the most studious beneficiaries of the scholarships and we facilitate their meeting with the sponsors of the programme

 

 

 

We organised the National Volunteer Week (NVW) in Bacau and we invited other organisations to join the event

This year's edition has gathered together 14 organizations and institutions coordinated by the Community Support Foundation in partnership with the Prefecture of Bacau. In the first day of National Volunteer Week started with activity "Volunteers bring smiles", racking up tens of volunteers from several NGOs who provided balloons, flowers, candy and other surprises designed to bring smiles among those who met with!
Among the major actions of this event, remained the traditional organized by FSC, respectively Fairs and Bikes march . The "Volunteers' Fair", was attended by 12 organizations, which had at their disposal a stand, where to promote their activities.

Meanwhile, talented volunteers from several NGOs present took to the stage. They gave more than 1,000 flags, balloons and leaflets by standers present in the park "Cathedral".

The march bikes gathered over 100 participants, as a result of bad weather . Each participant received NVW's message flags and "Taste for volunteering”.

Another partnership with the Vodafone Foundation Romania

The project „Investments for durable communities”, part of the Strategic Investment program in rural areas, launched by the Vodafone Foundation Romania in March.

The program was extended to nationwide coverage and aims to support education, health and social services for disadvantaged populations of small towns and villages in Romania. The amount invested by the Vodafone Foundation Romania for the project is 125.784 euro.

Key indicators 2014/2015

Description Programme
Beneficiaries


   
Services for elderly people Milly Village- Care Home for the Seniors
39
Day care Dr Stefan Ciobanu Centre - Bacau 120
Home care Bacau (City) 142
Home care villages (11 locations)
429
     

Services for children


Mosaic centre
429
Glue Club Bacau 25
Glue Club Panu - Stanisesti 35
Glue club Godinesti - Vultureni 101
Glue club Podu Turcului 80
Glue club Motoseni 86
Glue club Corbasca 104
Glue club Dealu Morii 72
Summer schools 660
Special Campaigns - Christmas
82
     
Services for youth Volunteers 306
Social grants 110
     
Services for families Social support 66
Community transport 200
Specialist doctors 200
     
Training IMPART TRAINING 175
Posdru training 1053
Other 25
     
Total   10,873


 

Conclusions

A recent report of Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights says:

Social policy and poverty

The fact that Romania ranks at, or near, the very bottom on almost all measures of poverty and social exclusion within the European Union has been exhaustively documented by the European Union, the World Bank, UNICEF and a host of other observers.

In addition to the 40% who are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 29% are estimated to be severely materially deprived, which is almost three times more than the EU average.

A new composite Social Justice Index, which scores EU countries based on poverty prevention, equitable 2 education, labor market access, and other factors ranks Romania 27th. Only Greece, in its state of despair, ranks lower.


In education, the OECD assessed 37% of 15-year old Romanians to be functionally illiterate. But you get what you pay for. The European Commission puts government expenditure in education at 3% of GDP in 2012, again the lowest in the EU.

In social services, Romania spends about 0.6% of GDP. These are services to help people who need it most, such as elderly persons who live at home but are incapacitated because of illness or old age, families living in poverty who need assistance to keep their children in school, access medical care or social housing, and home-based care for children and adults with disabilities.

Romania spends only about one quarter of the EU average on such services. The results, which reflect a combination of austerity and decentralization, are truly grim in many places, as I can attest from my field visits.

The County Directorates of Social Assistance and Child Protection, municipalities and NGO providers, do not have sufficient funds to finance adequate social services. Although the law (Law 292/2011) requires every municipality to establish public social assistance services (SPAS), many smaller municipalities in rural areas do not offer such services.

In brief, as the European Commission noted earlier this year, the “reduction of poverty and social exclusion remains a major challenge for Romania.”


Romania is, by no doubt, a country with many needs with a lot of bad management of funds and bad decisions on top level. There is, still, a lot to be done in terms of developing needed medical, social and educational services. We hope to be able to carry on our mission and we hope that the Relief Fund for Romania remains active and continues to be able to fundraise in this difficult international context.

We thank the Relief Fund for Romania for continuing to care and help.
Many special thanks to Edward Parry, Director for his efficiency, advice and friendship.

For FSC Board, Gabriela Achihai, President

 

For FSC Board,
Gabriela Achihai, President


To See last year's trustees_report for 2013/2014 Click here