FSC's a typical Report

TO: RELIEF FUND FOR ROMANIA

FROM: FSC - Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar

 

Quarterly monthly report on the activities of Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar


ECONOMIC ASPECTS IN ROMANIA

The thermometers registered as many as 54.5 degrees C in the sun in University Square, downtown Bucharest. In the South of the country, the temperatures did not fall in certain places below 40 degrees C. The heat killed around 30 persons.

The wells in many villages dried out and the vegetation died making the population desperate. People started to sell they animals cheaply as there is no food for them.

The authorities started to collect water and to supply it to affected areas.

On the political arena the period was marked by the national referendum for presidential re-election. Several parties initiated the process of dismissal of the President who was suspended for a period. The results of the referendum reinstalled him with a very clear result of 80% votes for PRO President. However the political situation is very agitated and affected by many conflicts and declarations.

PSD party (now in opposition) is, in a way, the winner of the whole disturbance and Mr.Geoana is accumulating more sympathy.


GENERAL OVERVIEW ON FSC ACTIVITY AND ITS ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY

On 26th June FSC celebrated 10 years of existence, a decade of hard work, results and continuation. We are very proud to say that we are among a small number of NGOs in Romania that were able to start large programmes that are still viable.

o We served over 25,000 people,
o We assured jobs for 200 people, of which 10 have been working with us since the registration in 1997
o We were granted the Public Utility Title by the Government
o We obtained many national awards
o we networked for the development of the NGO sector and of the legislation that governs the services

FSC representatives participated in the last quarter to several national seminars, conferences and NGO meetings were the name of the organization was referred to as being “serious, professional and representative for the NGO sector”.

We participated to the Social care stock marketa project of American Chamber of Commerce and Association for Community Relations with the “Summer school in rural areas” project.

Various NGOs from the country applied and companies looked at the proposals (an exhibition before the Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility). Our project was “bought” right away by Vodafone with 4,200 GBP. FSC was one of the few NGOs to have sold the entire project.


At the local level we were visible by organizing important events:

o regional seminar on Palliative care: we promoted the results of one year of activity in this special and needy field

o celebration of EU day by organizing the event “Europe in colors” that reunited over 700 children from all the schools in a painting contest.

o The NGO fair: 30 participating NGOs, authorities and mass-media, FSC was the initiator and together with 4 other NGOs the organizer of the event. The aim of the event was to increase the visibility of the NGO sector in the context of a general bad attitude and partnership with the public administration. The event was good and raised the visibility of the NGO sector in the community. Also it was a great opportunity for strengthening the partnership among the participants.

o The 2% campaign: 2,500 employees (twice more than last year) filled in the special forms for allocating 2% of their taxes on incomes to FSC.

 

 

COMMENTS ON THE PROJECTS AND RELEVANT ISSUES DISCUSSED AT BOARD MEETINGS

We organised one board meeting, in May, and we discussed about:

o The 2% campaign
o The volunteers programme
o A possible opportunity through UPC (cable company): contracting invoice delivery to their clients, a contract of 2,000 Euro/month, using our volunteers.

The board was very enthusiastic about the development potential and the impact of the volunteers programme. The volunteers are a great resource that can be cultivated to become tomorrow’s sponsors, supporters or colleagues.

Obtaining the contract with UPC can open further opportunities in this field as many companies do door to door advertising by distributing brochures and flyers in the postal boxes. This could be a future income generating source.

We analysed the resources needed to contract with UPC and we advanced an offer to the company (they have other potential contractors). The volunteers are very enthusiastic about it and willing to commit to the challenge. We have no answer back from them but we should hear in the next couple of weeks about their decision.

The Financial Situation

There are no structural funds yet available for Romania.

The political crises caused delays in certain phases of the complicated circuit of money/approvals.
In the meantime, the NGOs suffer from the lack of grants and get together to discuss the legal possibility of contracting their services or new services with the state.

However we understood from the various representations made on the structural funds that the money will go to the Romanian Government and will spend through decentralized bodies on fields that represent priorities for Romania, the first being economy, infrastructure, professional reconversion and agriculture. The NGOs can apply for funding if their activity meets the objectives of the programmes.

There are no EU funds on social care because this is considered to be the responsibility of the Romanian Government. NGOs are very worried about this knowing how many things have to be improved in this field.

Because of the EU adhesion the financial departments changed the fiscal regulations and decided to stop reimbursing the VAT to the NGOs !!! (Before, NGOs retrieved the VAT for external funding).
This means an increase with 19% on the expenses.

[EP Note to Trustees: To clarify this: Romanian business recieve reimbursement of all their VAT. However any charity costs we / FSC incur eg petrol for the mobile health project, food for the children's centre and so on we have to pay VAT for which we do not get back ]

Once again the NGOs get together starting a lobby process to the Ministry of Finance for changing the situation. FSC requested, as a public utility organization, more fiscal benefits (VAT, reduced taxation on wages) which will be unlikely to obtain.

We attended an interesting international conference that covered the subject of “social economy” through NGOs developing lucrative activities. The conference presented an European and American perspective and perhaps we should re-explore this field.

We finally heard from our financial applications to the City Council and County Council. Our requests have been approved (60% from the City for Care of Elderly and 100% from the County for the MHCP and for the Impart).

As predicted, the contracts become functional beginning with June, ending November. Also, as predicted, the cash is likely to arrive late which means that we have to cover all expenses from own sources. These grants do not cover the VAT for the expenses which means that the NGOs have to cover 19% from own money as well as their contribution. This issue was approached during the NGO fair when we had a meeting with the authorities.

These two grants, with all their restrictions and problems, actually save our cash flow for this year!
Please find enclosed a typical cash flow analyses.

The issue with the Local authorities

After the "summit meeting" in March with the mayor, when we discussed about:

· The Citizens Advice Bureau location (ie possibility of moving into it in an extension to our administrative office)

· The two buildings given to us for projects: Casa Pistruiatul and Day centre for the elderly. The official allocation document expired last year and in spite of our repeated written requests they failed to sort it out. The mayor promised to clarify the problem by signing the documents.

NOTHING HAS HAPPENED!


We sent 3 more papers about these issues since then and we had no answer. We could, if we wanted, go to court and ask through a lawyer for an official position.

Our request for the extension of the office was not approved by the City Council, with no reason.

As you know, we had 20,000 Euros from the Dutch Funds to do the building. Because the grant period was ending and we had no approval to do the work we asked them to reallocate the money on other expenses: salaries and supplies. Unfortunately they approve only 7,500 Euros and cut the rest of the grant.

In the meantime, we made a formal complaint and asked for a reanalysis of our request and apparently this time they approved the extension. We need to wait for the written paper before doing anything.

There is a general bad atmosphere about the relationship NGOs/authorities and that was confirmed at the recent NGO Fair when very few authorities were there. The only high level representative that attended the event was the Prefect.

The Mayor did not bother to attend even though he had a meeting in the same room that ended half an hour before. However 3 local councilors were there and they promised to take forward the aspects raised by the participants: partnership, contracting of the services, funding.


Programmes and Personnel

All our employees contributed to the 2% campaign managing to double the amount of forms compared with last year. The motivation was mainly the internal contest that we launched: a LCD TV, 100 Euro and 50 Euro for the largest numbers of papers.

It is becoming quite difficult to find qualified workforce in the social work field. We adverstised for a social worker and nobody applied. Also we lost another educator at Casa P. The main reason is the migration to other EU countries.

A large number of staff benefited from various training opportunities, attended seminars and were involved in organizing events.

We organized a general meeting at the end of June which was very pleasant and we thanked all the employees for their hard work pointing out the fact that 9 people have been working for FSC since the registration back in 1997.

We had the visit of a group of Firemen from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service who showed interest in helping with a building project. After analyzing various possibilities we selected the project of refurbishment and conversion of a building to accommodate a day centre for poor children in Podu Turcului.

The project will be organized in August and we have to sort out various papers and legal implications before than.

We have a busy summer ahead with 3 “summer schools” projects (volunteers in villages), re-editing the newspaper of Podu Turcului area (funded by County Council), summer camp for Casa Pistruiatul children and the rest of the work.

Care of Elderly

Number of direct beneficiaries per reporting period: 401/month

The grant (Dutch Foundation) for the salaries of the nurses ended in June leaving us with the entire costs to cover.

We obtained a grant from the City Council that enables us to cover the following costs for 6 months:

o Salaries of the home carers

o Incontinence materials

We mentioned that the two teams of home carers from Podu Turcului and Racaciuni were taken (in February) over by the County Direction for Social Care on a programme with European funding where FSC is a partner. Unfortunately due to delays in grant payments (well known to us) and because of the complaints from the staff they wanted to terminate the contract which meant losing 200,000 Euros.

We insisted that they kept the grant which they agreed based on the fact that we take on the coordination role. The first lot of money from the grant finally arrived and people were paid at the end of June.

The lesson learnt from the project, so far, is that when the state departments are the lead applicants on a grant funded project there are a lot of problems which they manage very badly.

The seminar on palliative care was a good opportunity for us to make public the results of the projects so far and the problems. Working in this field is very hard and is affecting the nurses because of the pain and death that the beneficiaries and their families have to deal with. The collaboration with the oncology department is good.

XXX (Romanian partner charity of the UK charity YYY) have started their project on palliative care for children for Bacau and neighbor communities and continue to work on the building outside Bacau that will be a hospice. They are committed but unfortunately are not good networkers, preferring to be on their own.

The services in the day centre:

It was very touching to be there at the celebration of 5 years since the opening of the centre. The beneficiaries prepared speeches, poems, dancing and shared their personal feelings about the centre.

There was a moment when we recollect the memory of Dr.Stefan Ciobanu.

 

Mobile Health Care Programme: Podu Turcului area

Total number of direct beneficiaries per reporting period: 2,455

We opened a small educational centre in Panu, funded by a grant from Rotary Llandrindod, and this is already a great success.

All the children of the village (one of the poorest and most isolated from the area) come to the centre for various activities and they really enjoy them. A local woman was identified, trained and employed to sustain the activity and she proved to be very committed and skilled.

We obtained a grant from the County Council that enables us to:

o Pay the network of community workers, the 4 people left, one social worker and the family planning specialist

o Continue to print the newspaper of the area (7000 copies/month)

o Pay for 2 educators in two educational centre

o Assures the materials and simple snacks for the children in the two centres

Will therefore be able to open a second educational centre in Godinesti (Vultureni Communa). This village benefits from a great building that can accommodate the activity and will employ (like in Panu) a local woman to conduct the activities.

Also will organize 3 “summer schools” projects in Vultureni, Stanisesti and Podu Turcului in August. This project gets together urban volunteers with rural kids in many pleasant and educational activities. This year the project is funded by Vodafone.

We are very pleased with the young family that is living in the small FSC house in Valea Salciei –Vultureni. They have their third baby (another girl to the father’s despair), managed to extend the house and to build animal sheds.

Last time I saw them they were all in the fields weeding, the baby sitting a small plastic bath tub, and the other two little girls helping around.
I think we can consider donating them the house as we see no problem with them.

The rest of the work goes on as before, with:

o Support of the doctors with 4WD vehicles and drivers: we will evaluate this service in September to see the need for continuation

o Support of many poor families through the network of community workers: we get various requests for: medical care, housing, food, clothes, etc.

o General network with mayors, teachers, councilors

We need to allocate some resources to teach the local communities about planning, services, grant requesting as a first step to increase their abilities in attracting more funds through projects.

IMPART: COMBINED ART TECHNIQUES, number of beneficiaries 66

The Impart team helped very much with the Pistruiatul activities and are now focusing on more direct work with the beneficiaries from the state institutions plus organizing more training in Bacau county. This need was identified following and evaluation carried out in the region. We realized that many people that were trained by Impart don’t work in the system anymore (most of them left to work abroad).

We were approached by Children’s high level group (The Children's High Level Group (CHLG) was founded in 2005 by author JK Rowling and MEP Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne.

Its aim is to improve the welfare of vulnerable children across Europe, operating both politically and practically to build capacity at a country level. )

To assure Impart training sessions to 5-10 institutions for child protection were there were identified several problems. We agreed as they will cover all the costs and the project will be done based on partnership. We will design a plan and if everything is Ok we will start in October.

The Impreuna network

Two more seminars were organized in Bucharest and Cluj, both very successful with good involvement and attendance from participants from both state and NGO sector.

A new issue of the Impreuna magazine was printed and is ready to be distributed according to the revised database. The revision of the database was quite a job as it was time consuming to phone 700 people.

Thanks to Daniel Hristea from FAST the site of the Impreuna looks better and all the members are posted there.

FSC signed a protocol of collaboration with FAST for the commune activity on the Impreuna.

 

Integrated services for child and family

CASA PISTRUIATUL: reintegration of the homeless children & support of the families
Total number of beneficiaries for the reported period: 50

In spite of our several written requests to sign a protocol of collaboration with the City Council we have no answer.

We carried on the work as before, the only financial help (other than RFFR/FSC) being on utilities from the City and a small grant from Procopil (French Government).

The continuity of the programme remains a sensitive issue, the only solution that we see is “contracting” with state departments and we lobby together with many other NGOs on national level for the introduction of this possibility in the legislation.

In the meantime we have to struggle to keep it going keeping the same standards of work in a context of total ignorant attitude from the authorities.

The children are happy and enjoying a lovely holiday out at the seaside right now.

VOLUNTEERS PROGRAMME

Total number of volunteers: average of 120 active volunteers per month

Gabriel Magurianu, the coordinator, is finishing his studies and taking the final exams in psychology.

The volunteers have a busy summer ahead with projects, camps and all sorts of activities.

We (Irina and I) managed to deliver a training session to 25 volunteer leaders on project management. At the end of the session we asked them to put on paper, on a simple form, their own ideas for projects. We promised them to fund with GBP 200 the most well written and interesting idea.
We will follow up the session with more training on: fundraising, planning, reporting.

If we sign the contract with UPC (home delivery of invoices to about 50,000 recipients) we will need all the volunteers plus a good logistic.

A group of leaders is already working on the management of the project.

The income generated by this project will assure the costs of the programme and we can consider renting an office for them.


FUNDRAISING

We are very pleased with the work performance of Ionut Chirita, the coordinator of the department as he is managing well to keep the follow up contacts with all the companies, to plan and to organize various events. He participated to the national conference on corporate social responsibility organized by AmCham, a training session (of a poor quality) by FDSC and a meeting of the network of NGOs working in this field.

I think he needs some better training which we couldn’t identify so far.

He is working on the following projects:

o The FSC web site: changes, updates, translation; will add a site for the volunteers programme and one for the palliative care

o A strategy to attract more small and medium size companies to help us: working on the idea of setting up a “FSC Fan club” of people that can make contributions

o A strategy to use more the “sponsorship law”, companies can donate up to 20% of the tax on profit to an NGO. This stipulation is well known by the large companies which have their own NGOs and is very little used by small businesses.


GRANTS IN USE

GBP
Total
Government grants Casa Pistruiatul and Care of Elderly L34 GBP 22,600
Racaciuni council-community worker GBP 6,000
Hope for the future, mobile pharmacy and family sponsorship 200 GBP/month
PROCHILD-French Government, Euro 10,000
Dutch Foundations for Home care-palliative care services Euro 70,000
City Council:home care of elderly and volunteers 17,500 GBP
County Council: Integrated services in rural areas and Impart 42,700 GBP

FUNDING APPLICATIONS

SOURCE PROJECT Amount requested
CEE Trust (USA source) A model of volunteerism in the region USD 154,000 (for 2 years)-awaited
Phare Citizens Advice Office Euro-19,500 awaited
Global Fund for TB-through Romanian Angeal Appeal Prevention and care in rural areas and homeless children, for 2 years Euro-195,000-failed
World Bank Volunteers-summer school Euro 5,000-awaited
Vodafone Volunteers Euro 35,900 –granted
National Agency for Youth Volunteers Euro 12,000: failed

I was asked to send “many thanks for all you do” from the elderly of the day centre which I am doing now. They really are very grateful for everything.

We are so lucky to have RFFR as partners so, please convey our thanks to all RFFR board members for all the support and trust.


With many thanks to Relief Fund Board,

For FSC Board,
Gabriela Achihai, President

 

 

 

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