COVID Update

In April 2021 the lockdown ended and all ZOV activities have resumed in full.  The only restrictions that remain are those concerning student volunteers who can still only work with the children online. 


Children won 22 medals in two sports tournaments one in Sofia and another in Targovishte.  Sports included football, badminton, running and athletics all sports ZOV classes support.

ZOV was able to donate 6 new computers to the centres to help improve online working.  They included new equipment and we provided lessons to help the children learn how to look after them.  A Big thank you to Dimi and George Velikov and CORDET for making this happen.

ZOV has been asked by the Municipality to become an expert member of the Regional Committee for Social Support involved in child social service policy making.

ZOV together with Tsani Giachev School in Lyaskovets organised a national exhibition attended by over 382 children from 54 schools in Bulgaria. The exhibition showcased children with special needs creativity including a display of art work.  It was a great way to encourage inclusion, awareness and acceptance involving parents and staff. 

Spring charity bazaar was a great success with over 100 children and young people participating from 11 centres. The bazaar was outside and provided a wonderful day to look forward to for many of the children.  It was also supported by the local municipality.

ZOV won another award for the garden at the crisis centres and all sports and recreational activities. This award was given by the Child protection agency in recognition of good practice and excellent partnerships.

“Congratulations to the friends from ZOV and of course to the girls! With care and responsibility, change is achievable and great”, Rositsa Dimitrova, Head of Social Department in VT Municipality

NEW PROJECT 2021: Crisis Centre for Women and Children

We have started working with a new centre for women and child at risk   Each session is a good opportunity to bring people together, with ZOV staff using occupational therapy models to improve everyday living.  Many of the sessions we do are creative to encourage communication – the things we have made include painting glass bottles, knitting and making necklaces


ZOV won the Happy Childhood award for a third year running because of our work during lockdown and the success of the online mentoring programme. The award ceremony was postponed because of COVID, but ZOV was informed by the Child Protection Agency that this was one of the best initiatives of 2020.

ZOV has been providing Christmas parties and presents to Children in Care for over ten years. This year with the help of CORDET, Dimi, and George Velikov, ZOV provided 165 children in 12 centres with Christmas presents and a party. 10 of the centres were homes for Children Deprived of Parental Care. We made sure each child got an individual present, a visit from Father Christmas and a party. We also raised enough to supply the Crisis Centre for Girls with IT equipment so they can join in our online mentoring and educational club, and continue to support the girls with their education.  The children got to perform dances and songs they had learnt in our children’s club. They were wonderful events, with many of the student mentors and staff turning up to share in the celebrations. A big thank you to all!!!

As Bulgaria entered another lockdown in November 2020 ZOV staff have been given special permission to continue working in the center’s delivering key services and support to the staff and children and young people we work with. As the Mentoring and Outreach project is delivered by volunteers it is currently  online

This year 11 young people were provided with paid work experience. For the first time children with special needs were included in the programme  This year because of COVID we were limited to the number of placements we could organise outside the homes.  Placements included working as cleaners and gardeners in the homes and caring for other children.  Some of the young people worked in Cafes, a hairdressers and in McDonalds.

ZOV organised for 167 children to have a summer holiday this year.  They played games, went walking, learnt to cook, made art and crafts, put on theatre performances and visited local places of interest.  ZOV also sent qualified specialists to work with the children and arranged all the activities.  Staff, teachers and children are very grateful for the opportunity to go away for a holiday especially after 4 months of being locked down.

The amazing Dessislava Stefanova is hosting Midsummer Bulgarian Songs to help raise money for ZOV on Sunday 21st June 2020, 3pm UK time (4pm CEST).  

Please join Dessi and ZOV for a fundraising online singing workshop, on Sunday 21st June.  Make a donation at the following page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MidsummerBulgarianSongs and if you want to attend the workshop please send us your email with your contact details and you will receive your ZOOM registration details.  Email: sunshineZOV@gmail.com. 


Just a quick update on our activities regarding supporting the homes and children we work with in Bulgaria during the Covid 19 pandemic .

  • 300 masks, disinfectant and soap have been supplied to the homes we work with, and we are in regular contact to make sure the homes have everything they need.
  • The mentoring program continues – but without face to face contact: we have arranged for children and volunteers to keep in contact via letters in order to retain their emotional connection and this important source of support
  • 300 Activity packs for children from the UK translated and sent to homes we work with
  • Emergency fund for food, supply’s and individual help set up
  • Many of the activities we run are being run by staff in the homes, some of which have worked with us previously.

Before Lock Down in Bulgaria

In February/March time over 200 children across all the centres we work with were able to take part in a Spring Bazaar making and selling gifts. Gifts included Martenitsi, red and white bracelets for Baba Marta (spring festival) and paintings on stones and plant pots and figures made from dough. It was a great success!!!

In the colder months the children have been learning to ice skate as part of our children’s club programme.  They have also enjoyed the indoor children’s gym ZOV created to be able to undertake physical exercise when its too cold to go out, playing basketball and fitness games.

In the centres for children with special needs and deprived of parental care, we have been calendars for 2020 and spring cards for each of the staff members to celebrate Women’s Day.  They have also been participating in speech and language classes : activities such as “complete the sentence” game help the children with their vocabulary and sentence building.


ZOV has been providing Christmas parties and presents to Children in Care for over ten years. This year with the help of “Joy for All” and Zvetelina, Stefan and Friends, ZOV provided 188 children in 11 centres with Christmas presents and a party. 10 of the centres were homes for children deprived of parental care. We made sure each child got an individual present, a visit from Father Christmas and a party.  They were wonderful events, with many of the student mentors and staff turning up to share in the celebrations. A big thank you to all for your fundraising efforts and for making this year our best yet!!!!

40 children participated in an Easter Bazaar and 110 in a Christmas Bazaar, raising money through selling gifts they had made in learning sessions organised by ZOV

80 children with a range of special needs, some of whom have parents who struggle to cope, received weekly music, art and speech therapy support.

 123 children received one-to-one mentoring support as part of ZOV’s educational club. As a result of this, many children’s school results and general motivation have increased.

Overall, 86 children received educational and life-skills sessions over the passed year.

73 children participated in a range of weekly sessions, including music, dance, English, sports, computers, and cooking.

ZOV held training for 70 childcare professionals, including ZOV staff and mentors, on methods of working with children with behavioural issues and those with special needs.

20 staff members received specialist support and group therapy to  learn how to better understand and support the children’s needs and behaviour..

In November 2019 ZOV presented “Best Practice Methods” for working in schools at The National Forum for Inclusive education in Sofia.

ZOV has won a national award from the Child Protection Agency for good partnership with a children’s home. All the results of our work were evaluated and the award was based on the support ZOV has provided over the last 12 years. The award was given by Deputy Minister of Labour and Social support Zornitsa Rusinova in a ceremony at Sofia on 20th of November.

Girls from  a Crisis Centre ZOV works with have also planted potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in the garden which ZOV created for them in 2017.  Gardening really helps the girls feel calm and is especially important in the summer months when the mentors are on holiday.  It enables the girls to spend time outside and learn about the natural environment.

8 children participated in work experience, this summer.   Work experience really helps the young people gain confidence and helps them prepare for independent living.

ZOV arranged for 96 children to go on a summer holiday this year.  Thanks to Friends of Bulgaria the majority of children and young people (56) went to the lovely Baba Stana near Troyan.  They participated in a range of activities such as walks in the natural countryside, cooking, and arts and crafts.  They also visiting local historical places including Troyan and Oreshaka Monastery.  Some of the children visited the seaside at Kraimore whe they got to go swimming in the sea and also visited the biggest zoo in Bulgaria.  The books of games and activities ZOV has created were used to help children develop their team skills and confidence.

Each year we assess our work and make sure we are delivering the best possible projects to address the children’s needs.   We are piloting a new project to provide  individual plans for each child based on their needs which will enable those who work and care for them to react and provide care in a consistent and constructive way which best addresses the needs of each child.

The children and young people ZOV works with have participated in a total of seven sports tournaments in the last three months all over Bulgaria.  A total of 63 medals were won by the children !!!!

Check out our new Bulgarian website at www.zovbg.org

Children have been making gifts to sell at the Easter Bazaar to celebrate Baba Marta including Martenitsi.

Participating in Ice Skating sessions in the winter months and badminton, table tennis, athletics, running, basketball in preparation for a sports competition in Sofia

Weekly individual educational support has resulted in 15 children with improved reading skills and 7 with improved writing skills.

26 children went on a trip to Ksilifor an outdoor centre to participate in outdoor activities in January.


With the help of Orlin and Manal, ZOV provided 170 children with Christmas Christmas Presents and a Party.  We made sure each child got an individual present, a visit from Father Christmas and a party. It was a wonderful event with many of the student mentors and staff turning up to share in the celebrations.

ZOV received an award from the Child Protection Agency for ensuring a happy childhood.

Desislava Popova, has been working with ZOV for 8 years.  She has completed a PhD study that shows, through ZOVs work,  a measurable increase in the communication skills of severely disabled children, deprived of parental care.

Filming a documentary:  As part of a documentary for ITV this year, four young people were interviewed about how ZOV had helped improve their lives.  See what they said below.

Thank you to everyone that attended and helped organise the Wine Tasting Fundraising Event at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in November.

In September ZOV has presented with an award for “Best practice in supporting Young People” at an International Conference for Young people organised by the European Union.

ZOV arranged for 80 children to go on a summer holiday this year.  Thanks to Friends of Bulgaria the majority of children went to the lovely Baba Stana near Troyan where  they did lots of walking in nature, learning to cook, making art and craft sessions, theatre and visited local places of interest.

ZOV Training: In  May ZOV undertook training in the techniques and methods of working with children with behavioural issues using group work. A hand book was prepared by child care professionals we work with on the games and techniques that can be used to promote good behaviour, education and wellbeing. The second part of the training focused on working with children with disabilities. Over 40 people attended the training including staff from the centres we work with local child care professionals and students and mentors. “ZOV always makes very professional trainings and always looks after not only children but also the staff. They follow the needs of the child care system in Bulgaria” Violeta, teacher

Individual Support: 80 student mentors are now providing 98 children with weekly individual educational support. There have been improvements in Bulgarian language, geography and maths, with nine children getting better marks at school and one child from Vratsa winning a maths competition.. As a result of our work experience initiative two children from Vratsa and four from Veliko Turnovo have been offered further employment. “I passed my exams with better marks this year. I believe that I can do it, thanks to my mentor “ Ivan from Vratsa, 14

Thanks to the Sports club sessions we provide the children participated in four sports events during May and June, winning a staggering 24 medals in four competitions: They even won a golden cup for football in the National Sports Competition in Sofia, as well as numerous medals from sports tournaments in Targovishte and Ksilifor.

Adventureland Europe: Jan and Eva are walking 7,200km from Bulgaria to Spain to raise money for regional charity projects. They have kindly chosen to support ZOV, and in May came to see our work in action. They were very impressed with what we are achieving, and are helping us to raise money for our Special Children’s Club, working with children with disabilities. They also raised money to equip the Crisis Centre for Girls with blinds in their rooms to provide them with privacy and shade in the hot summer months. “When you see the children smile, and the see the warmth from the ZOV staff and volunteers you begin to understand what life is about” Eva. For more information see the following website is www.adventureland-europe.com.

Sports Tournament: ZOV organised a large football tournament for young people who have left care and those still in care – all of them supported by ZOV in the past or today. Many of the children who took part are now at university or in full time employment. It was a great opportunity for everyone to get together and see each other again, as well as providing inspiring role models for the children still in care. It also made the local paper. “I am so happy to see our first tournament. it was a great event and all the children were so happy!” Mr Slavchev, ZOV’s Sports teacher.

Easter Trips:  Every Easter ZOV organises a trip away for the children to learn about Bulgarian history and culture.  This year we took 35 children to visit Shipka, the location of a historic battle for the liberation of Bulgaria, and a rose museum in Kazanlak to learn about the famous Bulgarian rose industry.  ZOV also arranged for a further 45 children to visit Shumen and a number of Thracian tombs. “The Trip was amazing, I enjoyed it a lot. I am so happy, thank you!” (Toshko, 16)

New Sports Room:  With the help of Dimi and Todor Velikov, ZOV has created an indoor sports room so the children can do sports activities all year round.  The new room has a table tennis table and sports equipment, and the children are able to use the room supervised whenever they want.   ZOV has also organised martial arts and yoga classes.

  • We are using the PECs (Picture Exchange communication) system in a centre for severely disabled children in Veliko Turnovo.  Children are learning new words to express their emotions, and have improved communication skills.  Alex has started to show the other children how to do gestures and many of the children have begun to communicate much better. “Look I learned the new things very quickly” (Alex 17)  


ZOV Christmas Appeal 2017:  Christmas can be a hard time at the orphanage, and it only takes a small amount to give the children a fantastic day. Celebrations are filled with love, happiness, dancing and lots of food, but at the top of every child’s list is presents! This Christmas we have around 130 children to provide presents for, and we need your help to make sure every child gets a gift and a party.  So please give a child a gift and a Christmas to remember. To donate just go to the following website: www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/ChristmasBulgaria2017.   You can now also Text BUWR43 £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070 (JustTextGiving by Vodafone).Or email charlotte charlotte@zov.org.uk

Thank you to everyone for attending our wind tasting event on the 23rd November, which helped raise money to keep our projects going helping over 180 disadvantaged children in Bulgaria.  A big thank you to Vaskovino www.vaskovino.co.uk   who supported the event.  If you quote ZOV in the order of any bottle purchased on their website a donation will be made to the charity.

We have expanded our outreach and mentoring project to work in a childrens home in Vratsa Northern Bulgaria.  We are working with Students from the local university and members of the Child Protection Agency to provide educational and individual support to the children.

Nine children participated in paid work experience, three of which were offered temporary or permanent positions.

ZOV organised for over 163 children to attend trips this summer, many of the children went on at least a one week trip to the Bulgarian countryside.

A beautiful garden has been built this summer at a Crisis Centre for Girls.  The Girls, staff at the centre, ZOV and members of the local community built a garden which grows vegetables and flowers some of which the girls use in the cooking and art sessions run by ZOV.

Charlotte, Lucy and Emily from ZOV undertook a training course in April presenting games for children to enhance self esteem, team work and promote good behaviour. ZOV prepared a book translating the games into Bulgarian which can be used by volunteers and teachers on a regular basis to help the children.

Thanks to the sports sessions ZOV organises as part of the Childrens Club, children from four centres won a national football competition organised by Manchester United for children in care.

Children from all ten centres we work with have been making Martenitsi (bracelets) to celebrate the coming of Spring. Many have made gifts and pictures to sell at local bazaars.

Children have been learning to ice skate in the winter months as part of the sports sessions ZOV runs.


ZOV has been awarded the highest recognition by the Bulgarian Ministry of Social Support for our innovative approach to social service and working with children, our outstanding results, our use of volunteers and efficiency as an organisation.  The award is given annually and is the highest award in Bulgaria for innovation. We were nominated for this award by the Veliko Turnovo municipality who recently acknowledged ZOV as their best partner for the provision of care and support for children in need.

11 children this year won a Communitas Award as part of the 1000 Stipendii program. This is the best result to date for the competition which ZOV helps administer every year.

Eight children participated in paid work experience placements, which include working in cafes, offices and in hairdressers. Four of the children were offered part time  jobs as a result of this project.

At the end of September ZOV delivered a training course on working with girls who are victims of abuse, as well as an introduction to ‘Hero Book’ training – a technique used with great success in South Africa to help disadvantaged children. We also trained staff on self-care techniques in order to ensure staff well-being is as high as possible.

This year six children will participate in paid work experience placements, which include working in cafes, offices and in hairdressers. “I want to become a serious adult with a job, education, house and a family. I want to learn English and I really want to succeed!!”16 years old Sevalina

A big thank you to Friends of Bulgaria and Cavendish School for making sure 135 children from homes could have a summer holiday.

Six children are leaving the home this year, because of our educational sessions and projects 50% will go onto further education and the other 50% have already found jobs thanks to the paid work experience we provide.

A trip was organised for all the children and mentors at the end of our Outreach and Mentoring Project. The two day trip included, sports, dance, canoeing, climbing and a number of outdoor sessions.

A PHD research exercise has shown a measurable increase in the childrens motivation, teamwork, independence, self esteem and communication skills as part of the Outreach Programme