The S.M.A.R.T. project, carried out by the Salvation Army, at launch: “Funds allocated to this project will improve the lives of 1,600 vulnerable people”
The Association Christian Mission Salvation Army in Romania organized online on Tuesday, November 27, 2020, the launch conference of the project “Multifunctional Anti-Poverty Services for Reintegration and Transformation – S.M.A.R.T. This project, addressed to vulnerable categories in Bucharest, Ploiești and Iași, started in December 2019, and aims, through educational, medical and social interventions, to contribute to solving the problems of homelessness, school dropout, the phenomenon of labor exploitation, diseases and premature deaths. The project benefits from a funding of 1.23 million euros, offered by the Norway Grants 2014-2021, through the Programme “Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Enhancing Roma Inclusion”, administered by the Romanian Social Development Fund (FRDS).
One of the most important components of the project is the creation of a multiregional community intervention model, which includes the provision of care, food, hygiene products, distribution of clothes and sleeping bags, as well as social counseling and information for the provision of services for 1600 beneficiaries, of which 1,050 homeless. For these interventions, four multifunctional social inclusion services dedicated to several disadvantaged groups will be created, in three localities: a day center in Iași, a day center in Ploiești, a mobile emergency intervention team and a counseling and information center in Bucharest.
The project launch event took place online and was attended by representatives of the Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest, the Local Development Program Operator – Romanian Social Development Fund, the Salvation Army Norway – project partner, journalists and members of the implementation team or social service professionals.
The conference began with an introductory speech in Romanian from the representative of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Bucharest, Mr. Thornstein WANGEN, EEA and Norway Grants Adviser who emphasized the important role it plays in Norwegian foreign policy, linking peoples, between generations, between different parts of Europe, these being the considerations that form the basis of the grants. He expressed his appreciation for the successful launch and implementation of the S.M.A.R.T. project so far, considering that “if the Salvation Army had been the organization that set the ethical standards for global interaction, globalization would have been a positive word.” .
Mr. Ionel SANDU, General Director of the Romanian Salvation Army continued the series of speeches at the conference with a brief presentation of the association, mission, vision and objectives underlying a 20-year activity of the Salvation Army at national level and over 150 for years internationally. “Our vision is a world in which every child has access to education, to the love and care of his family and every human being can feel the warmth of a home and benefit from the respect and support of his peers.” (Ionel SANDU, General Director of the Romanian Salvation Army)
The conference continued with the recommendations and the overview of the project offered by Mrs. Mihaela PETER, Executive Director of the Romanian Social Development Fund, as Project Operator of the project. It highlighted the value of the unique element of this project, namely the partnership with the Salvation Army Norway, an association that over time transferred values and working methods validated at both national and European level emphasizing the importance of applying the knowledge of this “force” in support for the S.M.A.R.T. project, which aims to work with various disadvantaged groups but especially with one of the most vulnerable socially excluded groups – the homeless.
The representative of the project partner, the Salvation Army Norway, Mr. Simen Morstad JOHANSEN emphasized that the S.M.A.R.T. project represents the continuation and development of a strategic bilateral relationship for the transnational approach to cross-border social challenges. “We strongly believe that this transnational approach is the axis on which we must insist and for this reason we have created a” social bridge “between the migration center in Norway and the counseling center in Bucharest.”
The conference ended with a speech by Mr. Eugen LUCAN, SMART project manager, who presented the main strategic objectives and actions that will be implemented throughout the project and which aim to improve the quality of life of 1600 beneficiaries and the importance of bilateral relations between the two associations Salvation Army Romania and Salvation Army Norway.