The Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MTSP) launched the "Mercy and Solidarity" programme to provide social services together with Bulgarian Orthodox Church representatives. The programme amounts to BGN 160,000 and is a continuation of an existing agreement between the two institutions. The first two contracts for its operation were signed by Minister Denitsa Sacheva and the Kremikovo Monastery Hegumen, Economos Serafim Yanev, from the Sofia Eparchy, with the blessing of the Bulgarian Patriarch and Sofia Metropolitan Bishop, Neofit.
“I hope we will set the beginning of a closer co-operation with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and be of service to the most vulnerable and needy, and at the same time, that we can direct more Bulgarians towards compassion in good deeds with this good example of mutual aid, charity and solidarity,” the minister said. She indicated that the pilot projects amount to about BGN 62,000. “We have yet to sign another project with the church board of the Sveta Paraskeva Temple to equip and start a soup kitchen for the poor in the church,” Sacheva added. Protoiereus Serafim Yanev pointed out that the church can provide social services for children and young people, which can enhance this aid for the body with spiritual guidance for their souls. “We want to justify the trust of both the Bulgarian Patriarch and the state,” he emphasized.
The targeted programme, which will run under the Social Protection Fund, aims to provide support for people experiencing financial difficulties and those in need of assistance or inclusion. Its objectives include modernising the current facilities and utilising social service activities by providing modern equipment for the premises. The two pilot projects include organising seven-day Orthodox camps at the Kremikovo Monastery for children and adolescents with special educational needs, providing social and medical rehabilitation, as well as screening for early detection of spinal deformities in children with insufficiently paced physical development, weak muscle tone and visual impairments. The two projects will start on 1 July 2020 and shall run for five months.