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Благотворителна Фондация ПОМОЩ ЗА БЪЛГАРИЯ

Bulgarian Aid Charity Foundation

Foreign Prisoners Project Programme 2011

BACF Office, Sofia, Bulgaria. 00359 887 444 824 Foreign Prisoners Project



Sofia, Bulgaria, November 2010

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Project Programme 2011

001 Introduction There are about 120 Foreign Prisoners in Bulgaria as of October 2010 of which around 20 to 30 speak English or German. They are all in the Sofia Region either in the main Sofia Prison or in the Kazichene Open Prison facility situated about 20 Kilometres east of the city of Sofia. Some prisoners have visitors, the great majority do not. Some visitors come regularly, most very infrequently. In 2010 we completed Phase 1 - the fact-finding mission regarding the situation of foreign prisoners inside Bulgarian State prisons.. Report No.001 on this mission, from BACF, is available on 2011 will see the implementation of Phase 2 of the Foreign Prisoners Project - putting the project here described into operation

002 Aims of the Foreign Prisoners Project. 002.1 To alleviate the problems their families have in being able to visit Foreign Prisoners (FP) in Bulgaria. Many FPs and/or their families are afraid to come to Bulgaria, afraid because of the language, of not being able find their way around, of being discriminated against because of visiting a prison, because of the money, etc. Many of the families are poor, not educated and never been away from home. The first step in this direction will be establishing Foreign Prisoners Project 3

BACF a separate website with general information in various languages, to try to assuage the above mentioned anxieties. See 003.

002.2 To alleviate the problems of those families who have decided to come to Sofia; both in terms of individually helping with visas and information before they come to visit as well as helping them whilst in Sofia. This will mean setting up a ‘Family Hospitality Programme’ as well as establishing a ‘Family Travel Fund’ See 004 and 007.

002.3 To establish ‘surrogate family visitors’ through the ‘Adopt a Prisoner’ programme. See 005.

003 The Prisoners-Family-Friends Website. 003.1 This website is a service for the families and friends of the Foreign Prisoners interned in the Bulgarian State Prisons. Go to..

003.2 Some of the themes covered are .... Visa for Bulgaria; Conditions for FPs in Bulgaria; Visiting times and regulations; Accommodation in Sofia; Parcels as ‘Life-Lines’; ‘Open’ is not always ‘open’; TV or not TV; the Family Hospitality Programme; the Adopt a Prisoner programme; a pre-formatted print booklet to download.

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004 The Family Hospitality Programme. 004.1 This will start off where the online-service ends. As soon as the family of the FP decides to come to Bulgaria to visit the FP, the Family Hospitality Programme will help with making travel and accommodation arrangements and bookings

004.2 When the family arrives in Sofia we will arrange pick-up at Airport or at the Railway / Bus Main Station and brief the family on visiting conditions and arrangements; accompany them to the prison and act as Interpreters.

004.3 During their stay in Sofia we will help the family with such items as mobile phones; eating out; shopping for the FP according to the ‘Approved Items Shopping List’; even caring for family members that cannot go to the prison ( because of numbers, age, etc.).

004.4 Help with applying to the Travel Fund.

005 ‘Adopt a Prisoner’ - Volunteer Programme 005.1 The first step is to security screen and train a small team of volunteers to visit Sofia Prison. Firstly because it is in town and very easily reached by the Metro underground railway system, making it relatively easy to implement. Secondly because we are certain of cooperation with the Social Work Dept. of the Prison Directorate, and thirdly because we are going to approach Kazichene Open Prison in the first instance through the School and the Art classes. Foreign Prisoners Project 5


005.2 We will allocate the volunteers so that each volunteer looks after a maximum of 4 prisoners, so that we need to have a team of at least 5 people, preferably more, to allow for an increase in the number of prisoners and for absenteeism because of holidays, sickness, etc. The commitment will preferably be for the duration of the prisoner’s sentence and the volunteers will act as ‘Foster Families’ for the Prisoner during his time in prison.

005.3 Essentially the volunteer will act just like a normal visitor. She or he will visit at least once a month during the usual visiting time, talk with the prisoner (we will issue Guidelines for these verbal contacts), purchase desired and approved items from the prison ‘Official List’ with money that has either come from the FP himself or his family and deliver these items to the prison for the FP. Later we will supply items, for those FPs who cannot afford them, from the BACF Prisoner Gift Fund. (see 006).

005.4 Between visits the volunteer will establish contact with the family of the FP using Skype or e-mail, and send and receive news about the family. This could extremely useful when we consider the very high cost of phone calls for the prisoner and the impossibility of the family paying for any ‘transferred charges’ from the prison telephone. It is also conceivable that, in cooperation with the prison social work dept., an email could be printed out and handed to the prisoner as part of his normal ‘post’.

005.5 As regards Kazichene Open Prison, we will start by using the volunteers who will be teaching the FPs through the Prison School to officially pass on parcels of approved items to the FPs. At the moment the relatively small number of FPs, particularly those speaking English and or German, Foreign Prisoners Project 6

BACF combined with the logistical problems associated with visiting Kazichene, seems to indicate that this form of ‘reduced service’ should work at least for 2011.

006 Prisoner Gift Fund 006.1 This is a donation-based fund and will be used to purchase items from the official prison list of ‘approved items’ and deliver them to the FP. More details will be posted on the ‘Prison Project’ website.

007 The Family Travel Fund 007.1 This also is a donation-based fund and is designed to help families in need towards the cost of visiting the FP in Bulgaria. Help will be available to cover cost of travel and/or accommodation. More information on the ‘Prison Project’ website.

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007 Who are our partners? 007.1 In the first instance our primary partner is the Social Services Dept. of the Bulgarian Prison Service Directorate. We regularly consult with them to ensure that the work envisaged will fit in within mutually acceptable parameters.

007.2 We get support and assistance from Bulgaria Helsinki Committee.

007.3 Quaker Service NI who have a major Visitor Care Project in Maghaberry Prison, Northern Ireland are happy to act as mentors and consultants. (see also 009.2)

007.4 As regards Kazichene Open Prison, we will start by using the BACF have a small team of international experts standing by to help with publicity and fund-raising.

007.5 Our contacts in diplomatic circles in Sofia will certainly be needed from time to time. We have been unofficially assured of cooperation by a number of Consulates, including some who do not have interned nationals.

007.6 The international Quaker community is available to us when it comes to contacting the families of foreign prisoners in their home country in addition,

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BACF possibly, subject to confirmation, to cooperation with both International Red Cross and Rotary International.

007.7 We are constantly exploring contact possibilities with other NGOs, charities, not-for-profit organisations as well as private persons who are also engaged in similar projects. Please contact us at

008 What about the people behind the project? All details regarding the Foundation Board Members, Management and the small team of engaged persons in Bulgaria, Germany and the UK are available on the official BACF website .

009 What about the other organisations? 009.1

BACF - Bulgarian Aid Charity Foundation is a Bulgarian

registered Charity Foundation. Even though BACF is a relatively new organisation being founded in 2008, it is supported by the same team of experts who managed Bulgarian Aid Project, a German registered charity which worked in Bulgaria between 1994 and 2007 helping Social Care Homes for Adults. More on this work on the website

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009.2 Bulgarian Aid Charity Foundation and Quakers The Religious Society of Friends is a movement that began in England in the 17th century. Members of this movement are informally known as Quakers, a word that means, "to tremble in the way of the Lord." In its early days it faced opposition and persecution; however, it continued to expand, extending into many parts of the world, especially the Americas and Africa. The Society of Friends, while always small in membership, has been influential in the history of reform. The state of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn in 1682, as a safe place for Quakers to live and practice their faith. Quakers have been a significant part of the movements for the abolition of slavery, promote equal rights for women, and peace. They have also promoted education and the humane treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill, through the founding or reforming of various institutions. Quaker entrepreneurs played a central role in forging the Industrial Revolution, especially in England and Pennsylvania. BACF is not a Quaker organisation but it has the advisory support of both individual Quakers as well as Quaker Service in Northern Ireland. (see above 007.3)

009.3 Bulgarian Helsinki Committee The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee was established on 14 July 1992 as an independent non-governmental organisation for the protection of human rights. In 1993 it became a member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which represents 46 independent human rights organisations in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America working together internationally to insist on compliance with human rights standards. More on

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Project Programme 2011  
Project Programme 2011  

Foreign Prisoners Visiting Project of Bulgarian Aid Charity Foundation in Sofia, Bulgaria