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Besides direct help, the Botrstvo project also provides funds for enabling children’s education and holidays. Foto: MMC RTV SLO

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Eight years of the Botrstvo project: the socially vulnerable do not feel the economic upturn

Besides direct help, the Botrstvo project also provides funds for enabling children’s education and holidays
14. March 2018 ob 14:18
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

"The basic idea of the project is to ensure equal opportunities for all children to develop their talents. Since 2010, almost 12 million euros have been distributed within the framework of the project," said Milena Štular, the initiator of the Botrstvo sponsorship project, marking the project's seventh anniversary. She added that the project’s ultimate goal is that the project becomes unnecessary.

Since the year 2010, 7,320 sponsors have participated in the project, securing funds for 8,962 children. There are currently 4,498 active sponsors donating monthly sums for 5,045 children. The advantage of the project is that all the money is transferred directly to children, without deductions. The initial idea of the project was to connect people, who would donate monthly sums to children coming from socially vulnerable families. But then, also due to economic crisis, the project introduced additional activities, such as providing free legal assistance and summer holidays for children from socially vulnerable families.

According to Anita Ogulin from the Moste-Polje Friends of Youth Association, the introduction of the fund for providing active holidays for children coming from socially vulnerable families is of key importance for the development of the social skills of these children, who feel socially excluded at each step. "In recent years, we, as a society, have done injustice to children, and I hope that we will repair it with smart social politics," stressed Anita Ogulin.

Gifted children without an opportunity to develop their talents
Both Ogulin and Štular pointed out that, despite favourable information on economic growth, poverty is still a big problem in Slovenia. It has spread on the employed and economically active population. They added that many precarious workers apply for aid, as they have no right to sick leave and are not creditworthy. There are also many self-entrepreneurs among the applicants, who are unable to cover the costs of health insurance due to a lack of financial discipline.

Obstacles instead of finding help
The number of applicants remains the same in the times of economic upturn. There are currently 150 children waiting for sponsors. People turn to the Moste-Polje Friends of Youth Association for help even when their central heating or washing machine breaks down. "These things are a huge financial burden for people with a minimum income," said Ogulin.

One of the project’s initiators is lawyer Nina Zidar Klemenčič, who provides free legal assistance within the project. "Unfortunately, we have observed that the majority of people in social distress find themselves in a bureaucratic labyrinth and fail to obtain free legal assistance. And this is not right. In Slovenia we have well organised services for those people, but the state should help people reach these services and protect them, instead of setting up additional obstacles in order to protect its budget."

By pointing out these problems, the Botrstvo sponsorship project has already encouraged a few changes within the system. Zidar Klemenčič highlighted the ban on interfering with financial social aid during enforcement procedures, a ban on taking away child benefits and the raising of the census for free meals.

Luka Lukič, MMC; translated by A. L.
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