[:en]Development of a network of psychosocial counselling for users at risk[:]

[:en]From January 1, 2021 the Society for Psychological Assistance (SPA) started implementing the project “Development of a network of psychosocial counselling for users at risk “. It is a three-year project supported with 149.999,40 € by Active Citizens Fund, funded by the EEA and Norway Grants. SPA, as the project holder, cooperates with partner organizations – Association Children First, Institute for Labor Market Development, City of Zagreb – City Office for Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities, Center for Social Welfare Zagreb and NewSchool from Norway – in implementation of the project.

The goal of the project is to establish a network of psychosocial counselling for users at risk, thereby placing the project into the category of strengthening civil society watchdog/advocacy role.

In Croatia, psychosocial counselling providers (which are mostly civil society organisations, CSOs) provide services for social welfare users. Social welfare institutions refer users to civil society organisations because of the lack of capacity in the counselling centres. Yearly about 3,000 children, young people, adults, and families in Zagreb are exposed to psychosocial risks such as poverty, marital breakdown, trauma, and they are included in CSO counselling centres in Zagreb alone. Psychosocial counselling contributes to the prevention of social exclusion through active coping with challenges and strengthening resilience. CSOs face the challenges of ensuring continuity because of unstable dynamic of project funding, lack of common work standards and the lack of capacity to jointly advocate for a sustainable funding model and the professional capacity of counselling.

The aim of the project – establishing a Network of CSOs in local communities to increase the availability and quality of psychosocial counselling for citizens at risk – will be achieved through 3 phases:
1: Formed CSO Network of psychosocial counselling providers.
2: Implemented development program of CSO support in accordance with the needs of citizens and advocating for the sustainability of psychosocial counselling in local communities.
3: Extending the reach of the Network and psychosocial counselling to deprived Croatian areas and for particularly vulnerable groups.

Main project activities are: needs assessment in the field of psychosocial counselling, launching the Network of psychosocial counselling CSOs in Zagreb in phase 1 (phase 3 will include CSOs from deprived counties with a long-term goal of national coverage), preparation and implementation of advocacy and capacity building of Network members for social impact and sustainability and for specific counselling skills (e.g. multicultural counselling), defining quality standards for the provision of psychosocial counselling by CSOs and educating CSOs in a deprived Croatian counties.

Society for Psychological Assistance (SPA) will coordinate and monitor the implementation, together with Association Children First SPA will coordinate the Network and conduct a part of the training to strengthen the Network. The Institute for Labour Market Development will conduct needs assessment, educate the members of the Network, and develop a long-term plan for expanding the Network to other counties. Norwegian partner New School will support the development of the programme of the Network and capacity building through the transfer of knowledge. City of Zagreb and the Centre for Social Care (CZSS) Zagreb will contribute to the development of a sustainable model of financing and of quality standards.