About a year ago we received an invitation from Varna Business Agency(VBA) in Bulgaria to collaborate in the development and implementation of a programme to introduce innovative methods for exchange of knowledge, skills and approaches to social inclusion. VBA had found us on the web and been impressed by our range of services.
A successful bid was made for EC funding and, after several months of discussion and exchange of ideas, a team of four from IRISS went off to participate in four days of conference and workshops (late September 2012) with some sixty Bulgarian NGOs, service providers, educationalists, IT professionals and social entrepreneurs. The title of the conference was 'Without Borders'.
Overall, the four days were a huge success. We imparted our knowledge (simultaneously translated!) about social services in Scotland and the ways that we at IRISS influence better practice through engagement and knowledge exchange, to an audience of about 70 people. It involved presentations over the first two days and then a series of workshops. Attendees were enthusiastic about our work and developments more generally in Scotland and posed plenty of questions. The four days of discussion culminated in a lively World Cafe in which the Bulgarian group formulated ideas about how they would work together to improve practice and promote social inclusion.
We are really hopeful that this project has helped ignite a spark of creativity and there is a possibility of continued IRISS involvement.
The Team: Michelle Drumm, Paul Hart, Rikke Iversholt and Ian Watson
An outline of the Without Borders programme we presented is also available.