:: ROMA MATRIX - Mutual Action Targeting Racism, Intolerance and Xenophobia

ROMA MATRIX - Mutual Action Targeting Racism, Intolerance and Xenophobia



Mutual Action Targeting Racism, Intolerance and Xenophobia

The ROMA MATRIX partnership is large and particularly strong. The partnership is wide and includes countries with about 85% of the Roma population in the EU (CoE estimates). The partnership includes 10 EU member states and 19 organisations. These are a good balance from different sectors: Local and Regional Authorities (7), NGOs/ Civil Society (9), private organisations (2) and a University (1). Importantly for this project the partnership includes significant numbers of Roma-led organisations and Roma staff working in other organisations in order to shape the direction of the work, provide a voice and ensure that it is not ‘for the Roma, without the Roma’.

The partnership provides the best way for the activities to be delivered because the range of organisations will offer different perspectives, approaches and understandings and be responsive to local need. We are aware that a partnership of this size could be difficult, but we believe that the proposed structure of activities and workstreams will ensure that partners work closely in collaboration, are connected to others working on the same elements and to the whole Roma Matrix. A key is the development of networks which will increase the reach of Roma Matrix and the partnership working far wider than just the formal partnership.

The aim of  ROMA MATRIX  is to combat racism, intolerance and xenophobia towards Roma and increase integration.

The National Network of Health Mediators is one of partner in ROMA MATRIX. The Network unites more than 150 members. More than are health mediators, trained and certified by the Ministry of Health. HM work in Roma quarters, with different risk groups from their community. They speak Romany language, know the health and social legislation, as well as the specific problems of each municipality in which they work and live, and have built good partnership relationships with municipal and regional experts on ethnic and demographic issues. They are also well known and accepted by the local health institutions such as the Regional Health Care Centres, the Regional Inspectorates for Public Health Care, etc.

Activity:  Centre for Equal Opportunities ROMA MATRIX

The Centre for Equal Opportunities ROMA MATRIXis a place where cases of discrimination are to be gathered and documented and services for Roma – victims of discrimination, are offered. The Center is based in Sofia and a branch will be opened in Sliven as well.


Area of work: Main target areas of work of the Center and its team are the towns Sofia and Sliven but its coverage will be even broader. Through the network of Health mediators municipalities on the territory of two districts will be covered – Sofia and Sliven – daily work will be carried out targeting discrimination on ethnicity grounds in the system of healthcare and in other spheres of public life and access to public services.

In addition, the major part of Health mediators in Bulgaria (130 in total, working in 70 municipalities) will be informed and instructed how to collect information for cases of discrimination and will report regularly to the Center.

Main tasks of the Centre for Equal Opportunities ROMA MATRIX:

•      Reception of citizens suffering discrimination; assessment of the presented cases; giving advices and addressing individual clients (Roma); offering the support they need to cope with and fight discrimination.

•      Solving of individual and/ or group cases.

•      Work with public authorities for prevention and decreasing the cases of discrimination.

•      Offering juridical services, including law representation in assistance to individual clients.

•      Individual support to Roma – victims in the Center – offering psychological consultations.

•      Identifying of frequent cases of unequal treatment of groups of people suffering from it.

•      Starting of legal procedures in the court and in the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination on behalf of NNHM (managing the Centre) as a legal person with non commercial aim, registered in public benefit, in cases when the rights of many citizens have been violated (class action) – on the grounds of article 71, p. 3 of the Law on Protection from Discrimination and article 50, p. 3 of the Law on Protection from Discrimination.

•      Solving of cases through work (mediation and negotiations) with state organizations and institutions through juridical action.

Organization of the work in the Center ROMA MATRIX:

In the Center in Sofia and in the branch in Sliven there is one coordinator working in each. The coordinators receive signals over the telephone but also work on the field in the Roma quarters. They spend most of their time on the field in communication with Roma community. The coordinators inform and instruct the Health mediators about the criteria for gathering cases of discrimination, how to describe them and to interview the potential clients/ victims.

The Centre ROMA MATRIX will offer in two main types of services – juridical and psychological:

Main juridical services offered by the Centre:

•      Individual support for Roma – victims of discrimination and consultations of discrimination victims – juridical consultations.

•      Consultation of cases related to discrimination – explanation of concrete steps and/ or opportunities for solving.

•      If needed – offering consultations via e-mail and organizing of meetings with victims of discrimination for discussing the specifics of the cases.

•      Preparation of all needed documents for submitting of concrete cases to the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination and other institutions (court), directly related to the solving or processing of given case.

•      Discussing the gathered information on individual cases, summarizing of problems, creating common strategies for solving of problems, initiating lawsuits on behalf of EMHPF (managing the Centre) as a legal person with non commercial aim, registered in public benefit, in cases when the rights of many citizens have been violated (class action) – on the grounds of article 71, p. 3 of the Law on Protection from Discrimination and article 50, p. 3 of the Law on Protection from Discrimination;

Two psychologists will be working in the Centres  ROMA MATRIX. They are responsible for announcing the availability of psychological services together with the Centre coordinators and the Health mediators.

What do we hope to achieve?

Better understanding on behalf of institution representatives of the problems related to discrimination of Roma and resulting from discrimination on ethnic grounds.

  • Increased sensitivity of the society for problems related to discrimination of Roma – mostly by work on valuable cases that affect large groups of people – e.g. mothers and/ or children and others.
  • Decreasing the discrimination practices in certain spheres – e.g. healthcare.
  • Better understanding on behalf of Roma community on what discrimination is in the context of the Low for Protection from Discrimination.
  • Increasing the information level among Roma with regard to the possibilities for initiating legal proceedings in cases of discrimination.
  • Increasing the information level with regard to the work of the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination.

Activity - Policy, practice and dissemination Networks

The network of stakeholders will include national and local authorities active in the areas of health and education, social assistance and employment as well as regulative bodies such as the national antidiscrimination commission, the Ombudsman etc. The planned joint meetings will be 10. The participants will be clustered in accordance to the area of intervention and will include selected trained community representatives:

  • Health area: Health prevention units within the municipality, Hospitals and primary health care centres, General practitioners in Roma neighbourhoods, Regional health inspectorates (part of the Ministry of health);
  • Social assistance and employment: Municipality units on social affairs, Social assistance offices (part of the Agency for social assistance under the Ministry of labour and social policy), Employment offices and Roma labour mediators (part of the Agency for social assistance under the Ministry of labour and social policy);
  • Educational area: School authorities (situated around the Roma neighborhoods), Regional educational inspectorates (under the Ministry of education and youth), Municipality departments on education



The discussed topics during the meetings will concern:

  • What is the rationale of the intervention in terms of personal development, socio-economic wellbeing and human rights perspective;
  • Typical cases of discrimination (the documented cases in the Centers ROMA MATRIX will be presented);
  • Justification why the selected cases are discrimination practices;
  • Legal and administrative steps for redressing the presented issues;
  • Needed interaction between stakeholders and the role of the Centers ROMA MATRIX.

Activity - Integration of Roma children, young people and parents

The Main aim is: To improve the integration of children and young people and reduce discrimination at school.

The target groups are from Sofia and Sliven:

  • Roma and non-Roma students in schools
  • Roma children and young people not in schools
  • Parents of Roma children
  • The target groups are.

Tasks and steps for implementing the activity for integration of Roma children, young people and parents:

5 workshops in schools with 30 Roma and non-Roma students from mixed schools from Sofia and Sliven

  • Key topics of the trainings for students of Roma and non-Roma from mixed schools: Tolerance in school – Do you know the different ethnic groups - do we know each other (good and bad practices); Why is it important to go to school - key transitional period had between primary and basic school and basic and secondary education; Guidelines forprofessional education. Prevention of dropping out of school. Performance through game methods of Law on Protection against Discrimination, what is discrimination? Learning tolerance and non-discrimination, problems and fears of students - relationships: teachers and students, parents, and students, students with students.

5 workshops with 30 Roma children and youth not attending school from Sofia and Sliven.

  • Key topics for Roma children and youth who do not attend school: Identifying the main reasons for dropouts and non-attendance - risk for dropping out of school: social reasons, discrimination, problems with "early marriage"; Information about our rights with respect to education; why is important to attend school? - Guidance for professional education and orientation- representing the various professions; Presentation of positive examples by presenting the stories of successful Roma (including through personal narrative of successful Roma to be guests of some of the training).

10 workshops with 30 Roma parents from Sofia and Sliven

  • Key topics of the trainings for parents: The responsible parent - fears, mistakes, advice to parents, discussion - what does the word "family" - extended family, parenting capacity, support, reference points for the child's upbringing; tolerance in schools and the education system - milestones and risks of leaving or dropping out of school; guidancefor professional education What is discrimination? Law on Protection against Discrimination - good and bad practices; 

Task4 - Concert/event by children for children and parents with 200 participants

  • After completion of the training cycle with all target groups will be organized an event for children and parents. The event will be combined with one of the school holidays and / or a traditional celebration for Roma on April 8, Roma New Year (14 January) Hederlesi (May 6th). During the event will showcase the achievements of the trainings will be prepared matarias that present opinion of the target groups in terms of core values ​​such as education, learning, tolerance and etc. Active participants in the training will be included in the program of the event / concert. During the event, will be presented and successful Roma - students, mediators, doctors, journalists, musicians and more.

Activity  Roma women community health mediators

 The work targeted towards Roma women as a vulnerable group will be realized mainly in two ways/communicative channels:

  • Via direct interventions with Roma community - contacts, conversations and counselling with Roma women, stimulating local capacity. Feedback form the community in Sofia and Sliven (but not only in these two target project locations) will be actively searched while developing the edition for local health professionals;
  • Via the health mediators – both men and women, with special emphasis on women health mediators. Mediators will be extremely relevant in the field work, in the direct interventions in the cases collection and further development.

Besides Roma community the work will be focused towards the “majority” and different experts and specialists – Health service providers, Ministry of Health experts, municipalities hospitals, GPs, etc.  The main activities are:

Training Roma Women/ Community Health Mediators/ champions– there are 3 trainings foreseen during the project period in which the final results are expected to be 90 health mediators trained. The trainings will be with good balance of interactive sessions and information delivery. The trainings will focus on one side on approaches for work with women and empowering public participation of Roma women – double discriminated – on one side form the “majority” for being Roma, on another from the community for being a woman. Other topics will cover specific approaches and counselling for vulnerable communities, specific topics as maternal and child health, early marriages, child abandonment, early school dropouts, campaigning etc.

Conference on Roma women's health: The conference will gather different stakeholders: governmental officials (such as Ministry of health, Health Insurance fund, Health Commission in Parliament, National council on Ethnic and integration issues, State agency for child protection, Ministry of Social Welfare etc,). Besides this the conference will provide the platform to academics, universities, international organizations such as WHO and UNICEF,  NGOs, Health professionals, representatives of the target group of the project, health mediators, experts, media, to have the floor to express opinions and share both good practices and challenges in the service delivery and access to health care. There will be a good balance in presentations and speakers in work in plenary and in smaller groups. Case studies and field testimonials will provide participants with better vision on the issues.

Manual/ booklet/ brochure/ report for local health professionals: The booklet will be 25 pages in total with useful tips on how to work in multiethnic environment, on how to address key challenges in maternal and child health and reproductive health for Roma women with difficult access to health care. Good practice examples and lessons learned will be shared. The edition will be tested both with representatives of the target groups and with service providers.

 Case Study on Roma women Health Mediators: Two key cases will be collected analyzed and developed in detailed manor.

Activity - Roma mentoring in Public Authorities

The Activity “Roma mentoring in Public Authorities” will be targeting Health mediators that started their work in the municipalities in 2013. The Health mediators are women and men usually belonging to Roma community. They speak the community language (Roma or Turkish) and are the link between people from the community and the health and social institutions. To be entitled to work as Health mediators they participate in competition for selection of Health mediators and the approved candidates pass through 14-day training course that acquaints them with social and health legislation, socially significant, infectious diseases and sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, family planning and other topics related to their filed work in Roma quarters. After successfully completing the course and passing through the final exam the Health mediators receive certificate that entitles them to start work in the municipalities.

We expect that the Activity “Roma mentoring in Public Authorities” will support the processes of interaction between Health mediators and institutions and our aims are to achieve:

  • Better results and effectiveness in Health mediators work in solving complicated cases that need work with institutions. Better team work of Health mediators and institutions representatives.
  • Increased capacity, qualification and continuing practical training of Health mediators.
  • Improved skills for presenting Health mediators work by regularly reporting the completed activities in written reports as well as in presentations during meetings, forums and other events.
  • Popularizing the role of Health mediators among the representatives of local institutions as desired partner in the dialogue between people from vulnerable Roma communities and institutions.
  • Improved skills of the Health mediators for identification of problem cases and their addressing and solving.
  • Improved dialogue between Health mediators and all institutions and specialists on the territory of the settlement (municipality).
  • Strengthening of the positive image of Roma as equal in rights and competent allies in the efforts for improving the social and health status of Roma.

Activity - Promoting positive images of Roma

As it is mentioned in numerous researches and studies for reflection of Roma image in MediaRoma are the MAIN and very often the ONLY vulnerable to discrimination group,where we have strong negative attitudes, widely reflected in various media products. In all other vulnerable groups and minorities there is a combination of factors with different connotation and the media image in not so negative. Comparative studies have been made in order to measure the differences in attitudes towards Roma in the period1994 – 2011.


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