The Family Outreach Worker Service Project Presented to HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in Belgrade
Belgrade, 16 March 2016 – The Family Outreach Worker Service Project, jointly implemented by the Government of Serbia, its Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, UNICEF and the Novak Djokovic Foundation was introduced today to HRH The Duchess of Cornwall during her official visit to Serbia.
The aim of this three-year project is to strengthen families at risk and prevent the separation of children from their families. On this occasion, children, their parents and family outreach workers especially trained to provide assistance to families at risk welcomed Her Royal Highness at the Centre for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth – the main partner of this project’s implementation in Belgrade. Family outreach workers shared their positive impressions and experiences gained from working with over 400 families and 1000 children, who have benefited from this project so far and highlighted all the ways in which these families enhanced the quality of their everyday lives. Family members who used the Family Outreach Worker service discussed with Her Royal Highness the importance of this project, thanks to which they created stronger relationships with their children, reduced marriage and family problems, improved their parenting skills, as well as their health and financial status.
The Duchess also spoke about this initiative with Alberto Lidji, Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF in Serbia Representative, and Zoran Milacic, Director of the Centre for Protection of Infants, Children and Youth in Belgrade. At the beginning of The Duchess’ official visit Novak Djokovic, Founder of the Novak Djokovic Foundation and Global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, addressed those present via video message in which he stressed that the visit of the Duchess was of tremendous importance and significance for bringing this issue to the fore and for attracting much valued public attention.
This project is of great importance for all of us because it focuses on empowering families, and, as you know, strong families are the pillars of every society. We cannot have happy, playful and inquisitive children without providing them with a safe and supportive environment within their families in which they can grow, play and develop, said Djokovic in his message.
Alberto Lidji, global CEO of Novak Djokovic Foundation, said that it was truly a great honour that The Duchess of Cornwall decided to devote her time to meet the families, children and family outreach workers during her official visit to Serbia.
Thanks to the Family Outreach Worker Service Project the number of children separated from their families and placed in institutions has been drastically reduced. Many of those who have benefited from this program specifically mentioned the kindness and dedication of the family outreach workers who did their very best to help them overcome the many challenges they faced. They provide invaluable support to parents in proper education and upbringing of children. Today’s visit by The Duchess of Cornwall encourages all of us to continue to invest our time, efforts and resources in order to further develop this service for families at risk and thus help them become even stronger, said Lidji.
Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF in Serbia Representative expressed his gratitude to The Duchess of Cornwall for visiting families who receive support through the Family Outreach Worker Service Project.
This initiative is for parents who want the best for their children but are struggling. Parents improve their parenting skills – so that their family environment is a safe and caring place and children are included in play and educational activities in the community. The programme clearly contributes to children’s well-being and this is why the Serbia’s ministry responsible for social affairs is committed to scale up and financing family outreach services through the national social care budget.
The Family Outreach Worker Service Project, which so far has helped and supported 400 families and 1000 children, is of crucial importance as it focuses on empowering the most vulnerable families and plays a significant role in the promotion and support to social inclusion, said Saint-Lot.
The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Centre for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth as part of her visit to Serbia on 16th March, 2016. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are visiting Serbia from 16th till 17th March 2016.
The Novak Djokovic Foundation and UNICEF, through their collaboration on the “Family Outreach Worker” project, have supported by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs to stop the placement of children under three in institutions This pilot project has been launched and developed in the past three years and US$ 750,000 have been invested, all covered by the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The project is implemented in 4 child centres: in Zvecanska street in Belgrade, “Dusko Radovic” in Nis, the Centre for Development “Kneginje Ljubice” in Kragujevac, and the SOS Children’s Village in Novi Sad. Family Outreach Workers provide the service, supported by expert teams within their institutions. Families – service users – are selected by Centres for Social Work, thus ensuring that this service is reaching the most vulnerable families.
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