The project “First steps towards independence” started in September 2006 and is still going on as part of a series of social projects that Romanian Angel Appeal implements in the benefit of people with disabilities or chronic diseases at high risk of discrimination or social exclusion.

Sponsor: RAP Foundation, UK.

Partners in implementing the projects are RAP Foundation, UK, Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation and the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection Sector 2, Bucharest.

The objective of the project is to facilitate social and, subsequently, professional integration for young people with associated disabilities, physical or mental, who come from a neuropsychiatric rehabilitation center in Bucharest, Sector 2.

Basically, the young people left the neuropsychiatric rehabilitation center and received placement order in a “protected shelter”, a residential service where they can develop abilities for an independent life with the support of the project team.

The 5 young people included in the project benefit from the specialized support form a team made of project coordinator, social mothers, social worker, psychologist, special tutor etc. The role of the team is to identify the special needs for medical and psycho-social care of the young people and to provide adequate response to them.

During the first two years of project, the young people registered significant progress in their ability to adapt to the environment outside the institution as well as in the knowledge related to:

  • Abilities for independent living (shopping, supplying etc);
  • Integration in a family-type community;
  • Relation with potential employers;
  • Work integration;
  • Taking responsibilities;
  • Carrying out job tasks;
  • Organizing and spending spare time;

According to the progress registered and the physical capacity periodically evaluated by specialized committees, the young people received from the team the support in identifying and getting a job and further integration into the work team. Currently, 4 out of 5 young people have part-time of full-time jobs and are responsible for easy tasks and activities.

The individual or group psychotherapy sessions allowed the young people to develop the ability to relate and communicate, to behave in line with social norms and requirements and to develop an adequate language. A series of individual barriers and false perceptions, prejudice and inhibitions were approached and progressively eliminated through the individual psychotherapy sessions.

Thus we ensured the premises for a good social integration and a satisfactory degree of independence for the deinstitutionalized young people. Also, taking into consideration the lessons learned, the challenges and successes achieved, this model of intervention can be, at a later stage, replicated and extended for other young people with associated disabilities.

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