Presentations and speakers



PLENARY SESSION: Methods and approaches in working with vulnerable communities


Eva FAHLSTRÖM-BORG (Sweden): Social transformation

Systemic Theory comes from Family Therapeutic practice. Family therapy has borrowed the word from Cybernetics. Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities.

When studying social transformations we are used to concepts like evolution, revolution and political power struggles. Systemic thinking on the other hand observes what happens in a whole system and how each movement affects all parts of that system. The role of the professional is not to show “proper ways” of transforming society but rather to listen and support new initiatives. Give strength and courage and never loose hope! “Water what you wish to grow!”—If you want roses in your garden, don´t water the thistles. And remember some seeds don´t grow the first year they are put in the soil and some seeds will never grow.

A project is expected to give results that can be measured and evaluated—but this kind of results are not necessarily a way to social transformation. Social transformations don´t follow a set pattern—it only tells that social transformations could happen where communities encourage its members to be active more than reactive and where the members of the community eventually learn to be proactive—doing more of what functions and leaving cultural conserves behind.

Eva Fahlström-Borg is a senior psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer of psychotherapy, psychodrama, sociodrama, Restorative Practices and Theatre without manuscript. She is also a scholar of Political Science. She works internationally. She often holds workshops about different forms of social exclusion and possible roads to inclusion.

Eva Fahlström-Borg is the Scandinavian supervisor of the Pata-Cluj team and the Chair of Disaster and Trauma Interventions in IAGP.


Vidia NEGREA (Hungary): Restoring the citizenship of the most vulnerable groups

Restorative practices—as defined by IIRP (—is a new field of study that has the potential to positively influence human behaviour and strengthen civil society around the world. Aiming to build healthy communities, increase social capital, repair harm and restore relationships using restorative practices can be a challenging and long journey especially when working with people who lost their trust in the ‘system’ and their sense of belonging to the wider society. It may start with intra- and interpersonal conflicts, symptoms or a state of mind based on “Post-traumatic Victimhood” (Berman), and continued while trying to keep a balance between maintaining one’s dignity in the process of adapting to a new reality and developing a different identity.

Yet it is worth the effort, because the way how the identity of a new citizenship is gained, shapes the way a person will be able to participate in the community and society.

Vidia Negrea is a trustee of International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and representative of IIRP Europe in Hungary. As a clinical psychologist, restorative practitioner, trainer and university lecturer, she has been working for over two decades implementing restorative practices, setting up model experiments in education, criminal justice and communities.


The Pata-Cluj team (Romania): The Pata-Cluj project—Taking stock of results

The project called “Social interventions for the desegregation and social inclusion of vulnerable groups in Cluj Metropolitan Area, including the disadvantaged Roma” addresses the population of the Pata Rât area, approximately 300 families who live in extreme poverty and deprivation in the outskirts of Cluj, near the garbage dump of the city.

The presentation will focus on the concept and the processes initiated by the project and their results. We will share some of the experiences, successes, difficulties and dilemmas of the project. The session will offer a framework to present how the Pata-Cluj project integrated the different sectors and levels of social inclusion.





Working group 1. Restorative practices in child protection
– Robert VAN PAGÉE (Netherlands)

Traditional practices in child protection are interventions in the lives of people based upon legislation and international treaties (UNCRC). Interventions are usually carried out to or on people. That can be done differently in serious child protection situations as well: one can widen the circle, put the issue in the middle, ask an open question to the family-group to first make a plan. The inspiration came from New Zealand (CYPFA, 1989) and our experience consists in over 12,000 Family Group Conferences (FGC). Family groups are owners not only of the problem, they also have the key to the solution. Professionals are key factors in the FGC process. They refer families to FGC and ask an independent coordinator to start to facilitate the process, they formulate an open question for the conference, and set conditions within the plan. In the end they resume the conference and have the family group present their plan. Each plan which is safe and sound is accepted. The accepted plan governs the work between professionals and families. Within this working group we will talk about the how, when and where, and about the conditions that need to be fulfilled in order to be able to trust this process.

Robert van Pagée is social worker and founder of the Family Group Conference organization (2002) in The Netherlands. Over 12,000 FGC conferences were held in Netherlands and numerous researches prove the important role of FGC in building a society based on participation and mutual self-reliance of citizens. Van Pagée is a trustee of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and one of the founders of the European Network for FGC. He is also instrumental in the introduction of FGC to a number of European countries.


Working group 2. Restorative practices for increasing school inclusiveness – Vidia NEGREA (Hungary)

The session will share the lessons learned from the use of restorative practices in schools as a response to the needs of vulnerable children, their teachers, and professionals or volunteers working with them. Based on restorative principles we try to respond flexibly to different life situations and mindsets, tailoring the methods to the existing conditions. A case-based presentation will show the challenging nature of this endeavour, share professional successes and dilemmas, and hope to initiate a dialogue with professionals from schools and from cross-sector agencies about the following issues: to what extent do the specific circumstances of a vulnerable group require a peculiar approach of restorative work? What are the effective means to bridge the gap created by fear, mistrust, lack of communication or socio-economical barriers? What are the characteristics of this field compared to other fields of restorative work, with a special emphasis on the involvement of families and teachers?

Vidia Negrea is trustee of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and representative of IIRP Europe in Hungary. As a clinical psychologist, restorative practitioner, trainer and university lecturer, she has been working for over two decades implementing restorative practices, setting up model experiments in education, criminal justice and communities.


Working group 3. Basics in sustainable partnerships – Hilde GÖTT (Germany)

In order to build a partnership, the mutual appreciation of the values of partners is necessary. Each partner is aware of their values and the investments in order to obtain the best results. Only in this case we can encounter a win-win situation. In our working group we will exercise such a process.

Hilde Gött is a specialist in psycho-pedagogy, psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor of psychodrama at PAfE, psychotherapist for children and adolescents, and supervisor. For thirty years, she works with domestic, structural and political (man-made-trauma) violence. Born in Romania, she has been working since 1991 internationally and starting with 1992 in Romania as well with the topic of Confronting Holocaust both in Europe and Israel.


Working group 4. Cultural approaches in social inclusion and working with youth – Mija BERGMAN (Sweden) and Emese APAI (Romania)

The process of becoming an adult has changed radically in our society. When one transitions from youth to adulthood, there are certain goals one has to achieve in order to pass transition. The young person has to get an education, employment and housing. But today one has to have more advanced education in order to get employment, the labour market has changed and housing is hard to get. We have to identify factors of protection. We have to empower children and youth. Art and culture are factors strengthening the youth and the community. Through creativity and play, we equip youth to become confident and to believe in themselves and the future.

Mija Bergman is the director of youth within the department of culture and leisure in the municipality of Huddinge. She is responsible for 10 youth centres spread across the municipality, and she is also the director of the Culture school. Mija Bergman identifies and deals with youth-related issues, in two goal areas. First, she offers creative and meaningful activities in the youth clubs and in the Culture school. Secondly, she prepares and educates youth for life in our society. Huddinge is a municipality with a lot of variations in socioeconomic resources, and we try to strengthen risk communities. With music and art in youth culture, with community perspective, and striving for equality (regarding gender, class, ethnicity, LGBTQ and so on) we build a better community.

Emese Apai works at the AltArt Fundation, the organization that manages the cultural component of the Pata-Cluj project. She is the coordinator of cultural activities within the project, and also a cultural facilitator, keeping direct contact with children/youth and their parents. She has a practical experience in finding a safe space for all to build good relationships between children and youth from Pata Rât or from other areas from the city and artists who want to be involved in common activities. We are about to set up a youth centre, aimed at empowering the young people from the Pata Rât community and offering a ground for common activities for young people with various backgrounds.


Working group 5. Inclusive community development – Alexandru BOGUȘ, Alexandru Petru FEKETE and Vlad MUREȘAN (Romania)

The workshop is structured around the experiences of the community facilitators’ team from the Pata-Cluj project, while working with the four communities and the institutional actors involved in the area. We will begin by re-conceptualizing the concepts of community and community development for social inclusion in the context of a segregated community. The specificity of the Pata Rât communities warrants a reconsideration of how community development can impact the future of its residents. One of our main aims was not to make the area more liveable, but to mobilize the resources from the community and facilitate their relationships with the institutions that have a responsibility towards them. We will discuss about the process of community mobilization, in a way that allows even the most vulnerable individuals and families to participate and have a voice, while taking into consideration the specificity of each community and its own internal and external dynamic. In the end, we will focus on the results of this two-year process and discuss about recommendations for other projects and for the local institutions.

Alexandru Boguş, Alexandru Petru Fekete and Vlad Mureşan are community facilitators in the Pata-Cluj project. They worked alongside the 4 communities from Pat Rât since the winter of 2014 until the present day, offering support in institutional networking and in the community decision making processes.






Robert VAN PAGÉE (Netherlands): Restoring citizenship through community facilitation

Experience in activating citizenship made it clear that the problem or conflict itself is not the key issue. Likewise, it is not true that certain people may rather be the key against others. What it is important in such processes is the way in which those who constitute the circle of people directly involved are addressed with regard to their joint capacity to come up with a plan and/or solution. The responsibility should rest where it belongs to: in the circle of one’s own people. Independence in these processes is a key factor. “I am from the Government and I am here to help” – such claims demonstrate the power inequality and make it difficult for the family group to stay in control over their own lives. In order to create independence we have recruited and trained fellow citizens to become independent facilitators. People with different professions as ICT-people, journalists, carpenters, taxi drivers proved to be excellent independent facilitators in all kinds of topics: conferences around the consequences of an offence, conflicts between neighbours, domestic violence, students staying in school, unemployment debt. It is all about bringing together a group of people involved in an independent process. In this way people take responsibility for the public functions of safety, care and handling conflicts. This ensures that a caring society remains intact.

Robert van Pagée is social worker and founder of the Family Group Conference organization (2002) in The Netherlands. Over 12,000 FGC conferences were held in Netherlands and numerous researches prove the important role of FGC in building a society based on participation and mutual self-reliance of citizens. Van Pagée is a trustee of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and one of the founders of the European Network for FGC. He is also instrumental in the introduction of FGC to a number of European countries.





PLENARY SESSION. Gathering and analysing evidence to support policymaking


István HORVÁTH (Romania): Results of the SOCIOROMAP project

The enquiry followed to identify, based on local experts estimates, the approximate volume of local Roma communities (based on external identification, and mixed scanning approach), the patterns of local Roma–non-Roma population cohabitation, the identification of compact communities inhabited by Roma and the structured description of these communities. The presentation will start from the larger picture (pattern of Roma–non-Roma cohabitation in 3181 Local Administrative Units), then focusing on the compact areas and the (synthetic) description of the situation in these compact areas.

István Horváth is the president of the Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities, a public institute founded by the Romanian Government. He is also professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Work (in Hungarian language) of the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj. His research interest is covering a wide range of aspects within the large topic of sociology of ethnic and national minorities: census and every day ethnic classification, social stratification and minority, minority languages and language policies, ethnopolitics and minority related public policies.


Cristina RAȚ (Romania): Involving residents of marginalized settlements with a majority of Roma inhabitants in quantitative sociological research: experiences from urban and rural inquiries in Romania

The presentation aims to invite at critical reflection on the methodology of quantitative sociological research in marginalized settlements with a majority of Roma inhabitants, sharing the experiences of involving residents of such settlements in the process of preparing the field research and making sense of the collected data. It argues that sociological research might play a crucial role not only for informing public policy design, but also for the fostering of local community participation and empowerment. The discussion is built around two cases of sociological inquires carried out by the Sociology Department of the Babeş-Bolyai University: the joint research with the UNDP regarding Pata Rât and Cantonului street in Cluj-Napoca (2012) and those undertaken in three rural marginalized communities from Transylvania (2015) within the United Networks project led by the Caritas Association – Social Work.

Cristina Raț is lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, Sociology Department of Babeș-Bolyai University. Her fields of expertise consist in social inequality, poverty, social policy respectively.


András NUN (Hungary): Participatory strategy development

András Nun will give an introduction to development work of the Autonomia Foundation in poverty stricken, isolated, rural communities. What are the basic requirements without which it is difficult to make a progress, once a significant mental and physical distance has been grown, and where is no common sense and basic solidarity in people living next to each other? What kind of integration traditions we can rely on? What are the values we should build on our integration work? How the different groups, Roma, institutions, elected self-governments, mayors can be involved, what are the basic issues that should be taken into consideration throughout such a development procedure?

András Nun is a development expert in the field of Roma integration, with almost 20 years’ experience. Throughout his entire career he has worked for Autonomia Foundation, where his tasks ranged from assisting and leading different grant-making schemes for NGOs to helping the foundation’s different Roma programs as coordinator monitor and trainer. Since 2013 he is the director of the foundation.


Nóra TELLER (Hungary): Evaluation of complex interventions for Roma inclusion

The presentation delivers a review on the regional settings where interventions for Roma housing inclusion set in, and elaborates on the main challenges and the added value of the measures. Based on selected examples, it takes account of potential improvements while reflecting on the current European framework on funding specific interventions.

Nóra Teller, who works at the Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest, has research interests including spatial processes of housing exclusion, homelessness, social housing systems in Central and Eastern Europe, and housing conditions of the Roma in the region. She has worked as an expert for the EC on facilitating funding of desegregation measures in housing and education.


Andrey IVANOV: Monitoring Roma interventions from fundamental rights perspective

The presentation focuses on the benefits of applying a right-based perspective to Roma integration. It shows how rights indicators and standard socio-economic and vulnerability indicators can reinforce each other. Referring to the ‘structure-process-outcome’ monitoring framework and the results of FRA’s surveys, it addresses the complementarities between the three elements, the different type of data they require and the different tools that may generate these data. Understanding these nuances—which indicators are appropriate for what purpose (project or policy monitoring), what data is appropriate for which indicators and from what sources these data could be generated—is important for adequate tracking progress in the fulfilment of the fundamental rights of Roma.

Andrey Ivanov is Head of Sector ‘Roma and migrants integration’ at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). He holds Master of Science in Political Economy from the Central School of Commerce in Warsaw, and a Ph.D. in Modern History from the Institute of International Economics and Political Studies in Moscow.


Gabriella TONK and Alexandru BOGUȘ (Romania): Developing a participatory housing process

At the moment, in Romania there are much too few experiences and validated methodologies concerning the allocation of social housing units, much too few alternative methods for supporting subsidized housing and complex assistance granted to families in order to maintain the houses, which could form the basis of the new policies. The Pata-Cluj project wishes to contribute to these efforts targeting the social inclusion of the most disadvantageous communities by ensuring decent housing conditions, as part of the integrated measures for social inclusion. The aim of this project is to pilot methodologies, on which interventions from the part of public authorities could rely on when fulfilling their responsibility in implementing national policies of social inclusion. We wish to present a system elaborated within the framework of the project, for accessing the social housing.

Gabriella Tonk is the project manager of the Pata-Cluj project.

Alexandru Boguș is community facilitator within the Pata-Cluj project.





Session 1. Social housing policy


Alexandru Mureșan, Leontina Lingurar and Enikő Vincze (Romania): Justice for Roma through the enforcement of housing rights: the Căși sociale ACUM/Social housing NOW! campaign from Cluj

“The City Hall put us there, telling that this was temporary, but they forgot about us!…”. Drawing on housing, evictions and relocation histories of current residents of Cantonului st., the campaign brought to fore different forms of housing exclusion in order to reassert the discriminatory character of the local social housing allocation system (collected in the Dossier of social housing politics in Cluj-Napoca). The campaign employed multiple advocacy strategies, like supporting 83 households in submitting social housing requests, work that contributed to the formulation of arguments for the petition towards the National Council for Combating Discrimination, as well as a strategic litigation case in court. To garner wider support for a different housing politics in the city, the campaign organized the Forum for social housing, launched the Citizen Initiative for a Just Social Housing Politics, completed the documentary film Dislocations. Eviction routes to Cantonului street (1996-2016), sent recommendations for the National Strategy of Housing, as well as co-organized the march and multimedia exhibition Pata rămâne a tuturor. These actions constitute crucial moments in the emergence of a local housing movement. Through this campaign, alongside the “Consult us! Roma are not garbage” project and the educational program for social justice ROMEDIN, between 2014-2016 Desire Foundation continued to struggle for institutional change serving the improvement of life conditions of the precariatized working class, among them Roma from Pata Rât.

The authors of this presentationMihaela Berki, Simona Ciotlăuș, Ioan Doghi, Alexandru Mureșan, Leontina Lingurar, Noémi Magyari, Enikő Vincze, George Zamfirare members of the Social housing NOW! campaign, among them dwellers on Cantonului street from Pata Rât and academic activists, who deem housing as primordial need and fundamental right, struggling for an anti-racist politics of public housing.

Sheena KELLER: Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion project—results and reflections

The presentation focuses on the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights’ “Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion (LERI)” qualitative action research project. The objective was to bring together local authorities and residents, in particular Roma, to jointly identify needs and (together) design and implement Roma integration actions. In doing so, the research helped to identify which aspects of these actions work, which do not, and why.

The action research took place in 21 localities across 11 EU Member States between 2014 and 2016. In Romania, the project was carried out in Aiud and Cluj-Napoca, and in both focused on the area of housing rights. The presentation will highlight FRA’s experiences in facilitating processes of stakeholder engagement and participation of local communities in implementing actions to help improve housing security. These initiatives included: creation of local action groups, submission of proposals for amending social housing allotment criteria that serve the needs of marginalised citizens, finding ways to regularise and title informal houses, and mapping the housing situation in informal settlements to support the local authorities in securing housing rights of local citizens.

Sheena Elaine Keller is a Research Officer in the Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Her main research areas include: Roma and migrant integration, fundamental rights-based indicators, and business and human rights. She is an economist by training, with a focus on development and poverty issues. She holds a Master of Science in Economics from the Norwegian School of Economics and a Bachelor in both Economics and in International Relations from Tufts University.


Katalin KOVÁCS (Hungary): The social housing policy of the municipality of Pécs

At Pécs, at the beginning of 2000, we saw the light and the darkness in the same time, because: the city was elected the European Cultural Capital in 2010; yet, there were segregated communities located in the peripheral area of the city as a heritage of the closing of the coal mines in the ‘90s.

Since 2005 there were a lot of attempts to dissolve these communities, but they all failed one by one.

Starting from 2012 a new process begun, initiated by the municipality in cooperation with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, Roma associations and the local community.

Together we established the objectives and followed them through the social intervention and infrastructure development.

6 projects were developed and implemented, the total financial value reaching 5.3 milliard HUF (17.000,000 euro). The included population consisted of 3500 persons from 5 communities.

The most important domains of intervention were: medical situation; community development—Roma and native population living together; vocational training and employability.

These were accompanied by developmental measures targeting infrastructure: rehabilitation/renovation of the social houses; the purchase of new social houses; renovation/rehabilitation of community centres and spaces; development of community services.

The success consisted in complexity and planning regarding: preparing the society for the changes (social awareness); and development of the environment and of the houses, with medium term monitoring performed by social workers and community facilitators.

Katalin Kovács is economist, specialized in regional development. For many decades, she is dealing with projects funded by the European Union, and sharing the knowledge related to this field at the University of Pécs.

In the period of 2012-2015 she elaborated and coordinated the project of the social rehabilitation of the city together with the NGOs.

At present she is the Chairperson of the Employability Pactum, Department of Baranya County Municipality and she is preparing a new rehabilitation project for the county settlements. 


Štěpán RIPKA (Czech Republic): Housing First in the Czech Republic: the Brno case

Rapid re-housing project in Brno, Czech Republic, is a social experiment of housing first approach, during which 50 randomly selected homeless families were offered municipal flat and flexible supportive service. Their housing and social integration outcomes will be measured against the counterfactual, a control group of additional 100 households. At this point over 40 households have already moved in the municipal flat. In my presentation I will describe the intervention, ways that lead to inception of the project, design and methodology of the evaluation and first lessons from enrolment and baseline survey.

Štěpán Ripka is chairman of the Platform for Social Housing which advocates for a system of social housing that would end homelessness in the Czech Republic. He is lead researcher of randomized control trial of project for families in Brno. He has PhD in Anthropology (Prague) and Sociology (Bayreuth).


László MORAVCSIK (Hungary): Community development in social houses

The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta started its activities regarding the “Hell’s Tower” in 2009. This building has a significant negative reputation in Veszprém because of its problematic inhabitants. In 2009 the Charity Service started buying apartments on the 10th floor of the “Tower”, now they own half of the 187 homes. In the first period they launched a children’s corner and a social information desk to help adult residents. In 2011, by winning a 65 million HUF (210,000 euro) OSI grant, they undertook major renovations, including fixing the elevator that has been out of order for half a decade, restoring staircase bars and balconies, installing reception services and CCTV to improve the safety of the building. During this period they also introduced the prepaid metering in 35 apartments and ensured social support to the residents by a live-in social worker. The residents also have the opportunity to request counselling, common washing and cooking, recharge meters for cash (serving for example people who do not have heating, water etc.). The “Hell’s Tower” is changing. When somebody steps in, they would not see hopelessness. They will see an improving subculture.

László Moravcsik is the project manager of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta and Managing director of VESZOL Nonprofit Kft (Social Rental Agency). He has a 5 years’ experience on projects related to Roma inclusion in the field of housing and employment and 20 years of experience in the IT sector as Managing director of Canon Hungary from 1995-2011.


Horea JURCAN (Romania): Social housing in the Pata-Cluj project

Within the framework of the Pata-Cluj project, Habitat for Humanity Cluj has contributed to the selection of the location for the Youth House and to the purchasing of the plots where the Pata-Cluj social apartments are being built. The association has coordinated the completion of the file, and follows the finalization of the constructions within the Pata-Cluj project. During the discussions in the plenary session, Horea Jurcan will address the challenges met during the process and the experiences gained during the project implementation.

Horea Jurcan is executive director of the Habitat for Humanity Cluj for 2 years. Before that, he was the manager of construction works of the association for 7 years; during that period he coordinated and contributed to the construction of 57 Habitat apartments.





Session 2. Mainstreaming children’s rights in social inclusion


Claudia LIXANDRU and Marian DARAGIU (Romania): Ready Set Go! – increasing early childhood development outcomes for Roma children

In November 2014, Roma Education Fund Romania (REF Romania), in partnership with Roma Education Fund, Budapest (REF Hungary) and 4 Local Implementing NGO Partners—Ruhama Foundation, Centre for Education and Human Rights, Divers Association, Justice and Brotherhood Association—and with the World Bank technical assistance, was awarded a grant to implement a complex ECD intervention in the most disadvantaged regions of Romania. The project was financed through the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009–2014, RO25 Poverty Alleviation Program, addressing the ECD measures for 280 children during 2 school years. The programs implemented within the project consisted in the Kindergarten Program (KP), Toy Library (TL), Your Story (YS) – an empowerment and literacy program, Home School Community Liaisons (HSCL), Community Motivation Events (CM).

Claudia Lixandru is the Director of National Roma Education Fund Romania. Claudia Lixandru has extensive experience both in corporate and non-governmental sector. She began her professional activity in the Resource Center for Ethno-Cultural Diversity (part of Soros Open Network) as financial manager, then continued in private sector in leadership positions as project manager of the company Combridge (Member of the Deutsche Telekom Group) and as executive director of Laromet Metal company. She graduated at the Faculty of Economics, and holds a Masters in Sales Management from the University of San Francisco. Claudia Lixandru lectures in various fields and is a promoter of the importance of education and personal development, considering that the most important resource of any organization is the individual.

Marian Daragiu is project manager and Roma minority member, co-founder and currently Senior Adviser of the Ruhama Foundation, Romania. Marian Daragiu has been working in the field of Roma Inclusion since 1994. Mr Daragiu is licensed in Sociology, and holds an MA in Community Development and Public Administration. He is also a nationally accredited trainer for adult education and a graduate of Roma Diplomacy program. Mr Daragiu graduated at Harvard Kennedy School, where he studied Leadership, Organizing and Action – Leading Change Program, focused on Roma community organizing processes.


Judit BERKI (Hungary): The role of Roma organizations in the social inclusion of marginalized Roma communities

In this presentation I will talk about the process of ghetto formation. What can social work do in such conditions, what are the tools at its disposal? What does social work within an NGO mean?

In the process of ghetto formation, where do we head? What are the possibilities of escaping? Are there any? How can we efficiently intervene? These are some of the questions addressed in the presentation.

Judit Berki is supervisor and group leader, with a significant experience in social work, education and culture.

Having an extremely reach experience in the field of social work in ghetto communities, the focus of my work in the last few years is to fight for the fundamental human rights with emphasis on education and social intervention, social housing in order to achieve social transformation.


Florin BOTONOGU (Romania): The Ferentari case

“Ferentari” is a ghetto area where the Policy Center Foundation is active since 2009. Intervention in this community started with Alternative Education Club, a program focused on child development both in school and personally. From this model, we extended the intervention, including the parents and the community, altogether. Social integration of children cannot be achieved without addressing school activities (quality of education and teacher-student ratio), the family and the community, involving local authorities, private companies, volunteers, donors and many other actors. The presentation will detail how our foundation was able to bring all these actors together in order to help increase the chances of integration of children from this disadvantaged area. It will also refer to the legislative or administrative barriers we faced in trying to solve problems, which are typical in areas of extreme poverty.

Florin Botonogu holds a Master Degree in European Social Policies, his education including also diplomacy and leadership classes. Currently he is the president of Policy Center for Roma and Minorities Foundation. He worked, in different capacities, for the local authorities, NGOs, OSCE/ODIHR, UNDP Romania, World Bank and European Commission. His areas of interest are poverty, social inclusion, housing, vulnerable groups and minority issues. He also contributed to several studies on housing and on Roma related issues.


Maria ROTH (Romania): Participatory action and empowerment of Roma children as pathways to social change

There are numerous data to state that young Roma in marginalised communities are several times more disadvantaged and disempowered, which impede on their identity formation, aspirations, motivation, and especially on social behaviour and self-efficacy, as well as on their capacity to pursuit their goals. Role opportunities are central for enlarging the repertoire of social interactions.

The scope of the presentation is to introduce the methodology of participatory actions, including the guides and manuals that were produced and some of the main results of the PEER project (JUST/2013/FRAC/AG/6230). Engaging young Roma in the reflection on their own needs, in capacity building, in participatory activities, as well as in mutual learning created opportunities for changes in aspirations, roles and social action for 450 young people aged between 12 and 18, engaged in a minimum of 6 to 24 sessions in 31 groups, in 9 countries. The emphasis will be on the Romanian outcomes. The project reports and the materials produced by the PEER consortium can be visited on, which includes national sites as well.

Maria Roth is professor in Social Work at the Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania and a clinical psychologist for children. Being one of the founders of the social work studies in Romania, she is working in the Social Work department since 1991. At present she is the director of the European Masters Program in Children’s Rights. She published several books and articles in the area of child well-being, prevention of violence in schools and families, and the changes in the Romanian child welfare system. Sergiu Raiu, PhD, sociologist, Eszter Péter, psychologist, director of Music Camp Romania and Alexandra Bichir, social worker (graduate of the European Master in Children Rights and gifted photographer) have run the Romanian PEER groups in Cluj. They are all members of a civic action group that has been long standingly involved in enhancing life skills of Roma youth and children living in the marginalized area of Pata Rât.


Imola ANTAL (Romania): The response of the child protection system to child abuse and neglect in marginalised communities

We will present the results of interviews with child protection professionals (social workers and psychologists belonging to child protection services, public social services and NGOs) and parents of children from marginalized communities who had been the beneficiaries of child protection interventions. Our results show that the prevailing response of the protection system is limited to interventions targeting mainly the child and the primary caretaker, and the provided services are predominantly medical and psychological office-based services. These kinds of services are not the most needed services in marginalised, isolated communities, thus they need to be reconsidered. The results of our research show the importance of building a relationship with not only the family, but with the whole community, offering what and when they need, starting with basic needs, offering integrated services built on the family and community resources. Social work services also need to be reconsidered for families living in deprived communities, as social housing and community sanitation should be included as priorities.

Imola Antal is psychologist, psychotherapist, associate professor at the Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work. Her main research topics are child abuse and neglect, childhood traumas, domestic violence. Gabriella Tonk, co-author of the presentation, has been working for the Pata-Cluj Project as project manager since 2014. Previously she had worked as Deputy Secretary of State at the National Authority of Protection of Child’s Rights. She holds a BSc in Psychology, an MA in Educational Psychology and PhD in Sociology on the topic of child protection systems response to child abuse and neglect in Romania.


Norbert IUONAȘ (Romania): Raising awareness and anti-discrimination advocacy

Throughout history, the Roma people left behind documents elaborated by others, referring to good and bad, imaginary things and facts alike. The collective memory remembers rather negative aspects, which can be legendary, but not certainties. The first public policy adopted by the government for the welfare of the communities answered to the educational needs of the Roma population nationwide, namely it appointed a certain number of places at the universities, funded by the government, destined for Roma students. The adopted policy is the answer to a nationwide thorough research in which the premises were that by assuring this facility in the Roma communities, the level of education will improve and the development of new models of Roma representation in communities will also be facilitated.

“Discrimination is a degrading phenomenon and treatment towards the person who is discriminated.” This means that the physical, psychological and social well-being and the dignity of the person are jeopardized. When we are discriminated, judged, refused, or evaluated by prejudice and exclusion criteria, and not by our actions and competencies, we feel demeaned and humiliated, besides the feeling of injustice and the impossibility of accessing rights and services that we are entitled by law. Discrimination derives from a sense of superiority, hostility or hatred, misunderstanding, prejudice and personal frustrations; this treatment is not based on objective criteria and competencies or actions of the person who is subject to discrimination.

Norbert Iuonaș activates at the National Center for Roma CultureRomano Kher. He is also an advisor and the coordinator of different programs and projects in the fields of documents and research, Roma history and culture.