Bulgarian Centre for Social Integration and Culture

In this case study, Bulgarian Centre for Social Integration and Culture shares its experience of raising awareness about the changes to the election law and encouraging the members of the community to vote. Read on to find out more about the campaign planning and strategy used to engage with the Bulgarian community.

The Voter ID Awareness Campaign of the Bulgarian Centre for Social Integration and Culture is aimed at informing the Bulgarian ethnic, Bulgarian Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) and the wider Eastern European communities in London of the changes to election law. Our activity also aims to make them aware of their rights, encourage them to fully participate in democracy and get them ready to vote as European Londoners are one of the big groups of potential voters who must be engaged.

Funded by the Greater London Authority’s Voter ID Community Grants Programme – Phase one, the programme is designed to reach the Bulgarian community, via two different channels: delivering drop-in sessions in the Bulgarian language at different locations in Enfield (where one of the biggest Bulgarian community is based in London) and via live-streaming events delivered with the support of the biggest Bulgarian media outlet in London namely Budilnik.

Undoubtedly, the biggest impact was made by the series of live-streaming events in Bulgarian language. This was promoted on six different Facebook pages of the Bulgarian communities, on the Bulgarian Centre for Social Integration and Culture’s own Facebook page and on the Facebook pages of partner organisations, including Budilnik’s social media channels. Using the first language to reach out to tens of thousands of Bulgarian Londoners via social media was a very productive and cost-effective method to engage with a large group of voters. The campaign was very successful due to the collective efforts of many partner organisations and the diverse network of Eastern European communities.

Another very productive engagement technique was the drop-in sessions delivered in Bulgarian in Enfield. We organised one-to-one sessions with the most vulnerable groups of the community, making them aware of their rights, and encouraging them to exercise their rights and participate in the political process. Engaging directly with individuals by interacting with them in their first language to build trust and confidence played a huge role in successfully disseminating the message.

Delivering a project on this scale has been a learning experience for the team, and we will continue to do this important work. Encouraging a community that is traditionally under-represented to participate in democracy and making them aware of the changes in election law was a huge and rewarding task. The great results were due to the joint efforts of the many partner organisations we worked with. We are happy to note that all our participants reported feeling a greater sense of belonging to their neighbourhood and to London, and an increased confidence in using their voice in civic and democratic life.

Nishan Dzhingozyan