friends of bg

Friends of Bulgaria focusses on the wellbeing of children growing up without parents or family in institutional care. Funds are allocated to NGO (non-governmental organisations) partners responding to local initiatives for improving the quality of life of children in care living isolated, routine-bound existences, often lacking in stability being housed in centres undergoing fundamental change in the process of de-institutionalisation.

In such circumstances, Friends of Bulgaria oversees projects that are tailored to address the specific needs of toddlers, teenagers and adolescents – some of whom may have social, mental and physical disabilities – to promote their self-esteem in preparation for their life as independent adults. Projects introduce children to music, dance, theatre and sport to encourage self-confidence in social communication and engagement as well as self-awareness in recreational pursuits. Other projects practice life-skills or adopt the mentoring principle to assist with educational needs and to foster personal relationships to equip individuals leaving care for further study or professional employment. 

Johnny Stancioff – founding patron of Friends of Bulgaria in 1991 died on 24 November 2021 but his legacy of concern for enabling young people to fulfill their lives continues to inspire the work of Friends of Bulgaria. 

The 2021 Christmas Party on 9 December paid special tribute to his vision and achievements promoting initiatives in England and Bulgaria – special thanks to everyone who supported the event:

The needs of child welfare are all the more urgent in current pandemic conditions. 

2017 Friends of Bulgaria Christmas Party
At the 2017 Christmas Party

Support Ukrainian refugees in Varna Appeal! Sponsor them by DONATING here!

Please support our Honorary Secretary and Treasurer & her husband by sponsoring their effort in support of our Bulgarian partner Foundation Kaleidoscope in our urgent appeal to support the children of Ukrainian refugees in Varna.

Update from 2021

Friends of Bulgaria with project-partner ZOV facilitated a record number of children’s Summer Camps this summer in the mountains and at the seaside, for the benefit of children in care and their carers. 

“Staying in the mountains was amazing, I am so impressed, it was so beautiful being in nature, I forgot about my problems and the bad things in this world. I felt like I was in a fairy tale, thank you for making this possible”, Alexandra, 17

 “Thank you ZOV for the trips. You have been at our side in all these 6 years, you never forget us, never stop supporting us and helping us to give better care to our children”. Meggi, Director of a Residential Home in Veliko Tarnovo  

Friends of Bulgaria Current 2020 Project Funding

Friends of Bulgaria agreed to fund projects proposed by Project Partners:

  • Karin Dom, Varna: Intensive week therapy for disabled children and parent/carer
  • ZOV, Veliko Turnovo: Mentoring, Children’s Club
  • Star of Hope, Sofia: Art therapy sessions in Sheltered Accommodation, Sofia and centres in Roman, Dupnitsa

Together with each Project Partner, Friends of Bulgaria are discussing project implementation in unexpected pandemic-related circumstances, adapting them to virtual delivery and altered schedules. 

ZOV are continuing with Children’s Clubs’ Summer Camp introducing six groups of children from homes and centres in Veliko Turnovo to outward bound activities in the Balkan Mountains.

Delivering projects designed to promote:

Communication & Social Skills

Through engagement in the creative and performing arts and sport: Childrens’ Clubs introduce individual and group practice in art and artistic crafts, song and dance, and sporting activities.

Personal Development

Enhanced through Mentored Outreach projects targeting individuals’ social, emotional, physical and educational difficulties; often linked to promoting

Life Support Skills

In computer literacy, cooking, accountancy.

Outward Bound Experiences

In Summer Excursions to rural landscapes and to the coast and seaside promoting team building across the ages.

Friends of Bulgaria works in partnership with NGOs in Bulgaria

ZOV: Children's Summer Camps 2020

Thanks to the generosity and support of Friends of Bulgaria 60 children from six homes stayed at the beautiful Baba Stana. For the first time children from a centre for severely disabled children deprived of parental care joined as well. Staff, teachers and children are very grateful for the opportunity especially after 4 months of being locked down. THANK YOU !!

Baba Stana was so fun and I am so happy thank you, I love the forest, the nice house and the river!” just some of the comments from the children.   read more here

ZOV Education Outreach 2019 expands to new centres

  • Residential centre Kolonia Tovar
  • Dimitar Blagoev primary school
  • Lyaskovets Primary school
ZOV: Children's Summer Camps 2019

Thanks to the generosity and support of Friends of Bulgaria 56 children from 5 homes stayed at Baba Stana where they did some walking, learning to cook, making art and craft sessions, theatre and visited local places of interest.

“We would like to show our respect and gratitude to Friends of Bulgaria, who once again supported us and again provided their wonderful home in Baba Stana for our young people….. Most sincerely THANK YOU for your huge hearts!” Maya Bojkova, director of Centre for disabled youth and adults.   read more here


November 2019: Benefactor Ann Richardson

 A generous donation from the Executors of the estate of Ann Richardson specifically for the Social Services Complex St. Mina in Pordim near Pleven was transferred by Friends of Bulgaria to the Complex Director. 

read more here

Project providers ZOV, Veliko Turnovo

A team from Friends of Bulgaria visited ZOV programmes in several centres pictured below

ZOV initiative to extend the Outreach Mentoring programme to Children in Care in Vratsa is the focus of Friends of Bulgaria special Christmas Appeal 2017

Friends of Bulgaria Project Sites
  • Sofia: Star of Hope HalfwayHouse – supported accommodation for leaving care
  • Veliko Turnovo: ZOV: Penyo and Maria family centres, Two Family Centres, Crisis Centre
  • Gorna Oryahovitsa: ZOV: Day Centre and Family Centre for Children with Disabilities
  • Varna: Karin Dom Foundation: Early Childhood development support for Mental and Physical disability including Foster Care families
  • Lovec: Municipality: Paraskeva Neikova Dom: Residential Centre
  • Dalbok Dol: Troyan Municipality: Centre for Rehabilitation and Integration
  • Troyan: Municipality, Ivan Hadjiskii School: Support and integration for disadvantaged children
  • Stara Zagora: Municipality: Nezabravka Orphanage
  • Petrovo: Blagoevgrad Province:Home for children with mental disabilities
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