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Our Story

Over 20 years working in Southeast Europe


The work begins in Bulgaria

Parent organisation The Trussell Trust (TT) was founded in 1997 with a legacy left by Betty Trussell. TT immediately began work in Bulgaria, helping to relieve families in crisis through street-feeding programmes in Sofia. Work was then focused on children in and around the town of Botevgrad – particularly those children who were residents at Lipnitsa Orphanage/School.


Building a foundation

Humanitarian projects developed from the Trust’s involvement at Lipnitsa – Roma community improvement schemes, health projects and a Christmas box appeal (generating Christmas presents in the UK and distributing them in Bulgaria), among others. The work with orphanages identified a particular problem – those young people leaving the institutions at the age of 18 were left completely on their own, with no help whatsoever as they tried to make their way in the hostile and exploitative world.


The first House of Opportunity

In 2007 TT opened its first House of Opportunity (HOP) near Botevgrad. HOPs are small group homes that provide two-year residential programmes for young State-care leavers (18 years old +). This helps these vulnerable young people to make the difficult transition from care to independence by helping them complete or continue their education and assisting them to find employment. In this way the young people are able to have every opportunity to have a normal, fulfilling life, rather than slip into extreme poverty, or become prey to human-traffickers and other criminals – common outcomes for this neglected group.


FSCI Bulgaria is established

In 2008 TT established a new organisation – The Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion (FSCI), which assumed responsibility for delivering TT’s vision for the work in the Balkans, with TT remaining a full partner in the work. Learning from the pilot project in Botevgrad, development of HOPs began in earnest and the second House was opened in 2010, with the third following in 2011. The first HOP in Sofia was opened in 2013.


Beyond Bulgaria

On the understanding that many of the serious social exclusion problems FSCI was familiar with in Bulgaria were shared experiences throughout Southeast Europe, a long-held plan was put into action. TT and FSCI researched like-minded NGOs and established valuable partnerships throughout the Balkans with a view to building a network that could make a regional impact.


A vital pathway into education

FSCI began funding a small kindergarten in a Roma community in Stara Zagora after seeing what a difference the project was making in the lives of children and families there. In 2015 FSCI established its Early Years Education Programme (EYEP) and opened a kindergarten in the Roma community of Fakulteta, in Sofia. The project helps to provide a vital pathway into education for marginalised Roma children.


A new chapter begins

Needing a project that allowed “in-house” training and employment for the young people in its Houses of Opportunity, FSCI launched an ambitious Social Enterprise programme, HOPe Restaurant, in autumn 2016.

In December 2016 FSCI (UK) was founded for the purpose of taking on the responsibility from The Trussell Trust for UK and European fundraising and support for the programmes run by FSCI in Southeast Europe.


The FSCI network

Through the partnerships developed since 2014/15, HOPs have been launched in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania. There are EYE projects in Albania and Moldova and Bulgaria.

FSCI works with its partners; funding projects, establishing good practice, and developing capacity to grow and sustain shared programmes.


Building Resilience in Vulnerable Communities

A series of projects is established in Moldova thanks to a group of donors looking to tackle the serious social challenges facing the country. Specialist Early Learning Centres, Houses of Opportunity and a schools outreach programme called Way to Success all form part of this innovative approach to combating poverty, lack of opportunity and exploitation. With learning and practical applications being applied in Bulgaria and beyond, the whole programme is being developed to have wider regional impact.


FSCI and its partners respond to Ukrainian refugee crisis

When war broke out in early 2021, milions of Ukrainians fled thier home and loved ones to escape the violence. FSCI’s supporters responded by donating tens of thousands of pounds, which was used to provide emergency response in Moldova, Croatia and Bulgaria. FSCI partners Beginning of Life were able to create a team of people to look after the long-term needs of families dsiplaced into Moldova.


FSCI (UK) changes its name to House of Opportunity