About Us

Friends of Bulgaria supports projects addressing the needs of children in care and adolescents leaving care.

Friends of Bulgaria was founded in 1991 to provide humanitarian aid to hospitals and children’s homes in Bulgaria affected by the economic crisis and infrastructure collapse in the immediate post-Soviet period by distributing essential pharmaceutical and medical supplies, bed-linen and clothing.

Since then Friends of Bulgaria’s role has adapted to meet developments in the sector and has focussed on improving the welfare of children in care and adolescents leaving care conditioned by the transition from institutionalised care to care in the community. Many children suffer from mental and physical disability and may be socially disadvantaged and require physio and occupational therapies and emotional counselling. Now nearly three decades later, Friends of Bulgaria has a record of consistent support delivered throughout Bulgaria by Project Partners in collaboration with trained social workers in centres managed by local municipalities.

Friends of Bulgaria’s aims acknowledge the inspiration of founder Johnny Stancioff, then Bulgarian Ambassador in London, who subsequently founded the Karin Dom Foundation in Varna in 1996 for children with physical and mental disability. Friends of Bulgaria is managed by an Executive Committee of volunteers seeking to distribute support throughout the country, in regional locations as well as in the capital. 

The Committee is concerned to promote awareness of the Friends of Bulgaria organisation through fund-raising events and to allocate grants to support deserving projects delivered by partner charities locally on the basis of detailed project-proposals.

Friends of Bulgaria’s support of locally initiated projects is often of vital importance covering shortfalls in state funding subject to unpredictable budgets and government policies.

Over the course of twenty five years, Friends of Bulgaria has consolidated continuing partnerships with Star of Hope in Sofia and with OXAB and ZOVin the region of Veliko Turnovo.

Star of Hope Foundation

2016 marks a decade of Friends of Bulgaria’s partnership with Star of Hope, which has consolidated repeated support of

  • Future and Hope Project, funding for  the HalfwayHouse supported accommodation

  • Summer Camp excursions

  •  Future and Hope Project, HalfwayHouse

Supported accommodation for girls 18+ without parental care entering independent adult life. Read more here or follow the link: http://www.starofhopebg.com/en/halfway-house.htm

  • Summer Camp

Since 2004 Friends of Bulgaria sponsor annual Summer Camps for residents of the HalfwayHouse beneficiaries of the Future and Hope project (see Star of Hope dedicated page) – http://www.starofhopebg.com/en/our-projects.htm


Friends of Bulgaria supports the range of projects designed by OXAB and ZOV to accompany young children and adolescents on their progress from dissolved large institutions into smaller residential Family Centres and day Centres, introducing them to a range of extra-curricular, recreational and sporting activities to foster communication, social skills and self-awareness. Read more

Friends of Bulgaria History

Friends of Bulgaria was established in 1991 to provide humanitarian assistance to Bulgaria. It works to improve the quality of life of children with disabilities by establishing and providing ongoing support, including staff training at orphanages and placement homes. Since its foundation, it has raised more than £300,000 for charitable causes in Bulgaria

The supply of equipment and pharmaceuticals desperately needed in Bulgarian hospitals accounted for £64,000 of the charity’s funds during the first eight years of its existence, but in addition £29,000 was sent to the Karin Dom Children’s Home in Varna while another £17,500 went to various other Bulgarian institutions.

A notable early project was the involvement with the Sofia School for the Blind. With the assistance of Friends of Bulgaria, Alex Thomas, the son of the British Ambassador in Sofia at the time, completed a sponsored cycle ride from the Bulgarian Embassy in London to the British Embassy in Sofia, raising nearly £12,000 for the School.

During the critical economic situation in Bulgaria in the winter of 1996/97, the charity supported the work of a British aid worker in gathering and distributing food supplies to those in need in the town of Assenovgrad and its surroundings. Support has also been given to John Panitsa’s Free and Democratic Bulgarian Foundation for its work with street children and Roma communities.

In recent years, Friends of Bulgaria has focused its support on improving the quality of life for children with disabilities, establishing and providing ongoing support, including staff training, volunteer placements and equipment, for a special needs teaching unit in the Ivan Hadjiisky School in Troyan. Other institutions with which we work on a regular basis are the Petrovo home for children with mental disabilities and the Nezabravka (Forget-me-not) orphanage in Stara Zagora.

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