Measure 1.2: Cross-border initiatives targeting the exchange of people and ideas to enhance professional and civil society cooperation

Project title: Through Professional Cooperation to Better Services

Project budget:

  Project value EU contribution
Republic of Serbia € 69,571.18 € 53,971.18
Montenegro € 85,367.00 € 72,561.00
TOTAL € 154,938.18 € 126,532.18

Beneficiary of funds in the Republic of Serbia: PI Social Welfare Centre Priboj

Beneficiary of funds in Montenegro: PI Centre for Support to Children and Family Bijelo Polje
Partner: Municipality of Bijelo Polje

Area of implementation:
• Montenegro: Municipality of Bijelo Polje
• Serbia: Municipality of Priboj

Project duration: 15/10/2012 – 14/10/2013

Project objectives: The overall objective of the project is to improve provision of social services in a wider area of Bijelo Polje and Priboj municipalities and to increase public awareness to children and youth related to environmental protection. The specific objective of the project is to improve cooperation between two towns through exchange of experience and promotion of social services by promoting services that are not currently being implemented in either Bijelo Polje or Priboj municipalities.

Activities and results of the project:

Activities on establishing lobby groups in Priboj and Bijelo Polje have been conducted in order to ensure the project’s sustainability from its very beginning. Members of the lobby groups are representatives of relevant local institutions and civil society organisations. The specific role of lobby groups is to introduce into the local services system social services that do not exist and are actually needed by beneficiaries, each through its scope of work and in a synchronised manner, thus providing support to relevant institutions.

During a visit to Bijelo Polje, representatives of the Centre for Social Work from Priboj had the opportunity to learn about models for addressing social issues and experiences their colleagues from Bijelo Polje had in the provision of services. The guests from Priboj were introduced to Bijelo Polje’s Centre for Child and Family Support, Centre for Social Work, NGO “SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence” and the Institute for Employment – Labour Bureau Bijelo Polje.

The positive experience of Bijelo Polje in providing a helpline service for victims of violence was presented in detail to their partners from Priboj during the three-day training course. Participants were presented with institutional and legal frameworks in Montenegro in relation to this topic and they carried out a comparative analysis of the situation in Serbia in this field. Practical solutions presented by colleagues from Bijelo Polje, which have been implemented in practice, have aided in defining ways of providing this kind of efficient service to customers in Priboj, which is in accordance with the responsibilities and tasks of certain local actors; furthermore, workshops have contributed to raising human capacity and knowledge and skills for treatment of domestic violence victims.

During a study visit to Priboj made by representatives of institutions and organisations dealing with social protection issues from Bijelo Polje, there was a presentation of the work of the local social welfare centre, the Day Care Centre for the Elderly, Shelter for Victims of Violence, the Red Cross and NGO Women’s Initiative Priboj. Social workers from Bijelo Polje were acquainted with the precious experiences of their colleagues from Priboj and of particular interest to them were findings on the model and experiences of work within the foster care service as a form of protection for children without parental care. An educational training course on this subject was held in Bijelo Polje, where participants were acquainted with all relevant institutional and legal frameworks in Montenegro and carried out a comparative analysis of the possibilities and limitations in relation to the situation in the Republic of Serbia. In addition, professional trainers provided participants with valuable knowledge and practical examples of work covering all aspects of the introduction and implementation of these services.

The project also dealt with the topic of mediation as one of the most common models of working with people in a state of social need. For further development of this work method in both partner municipalities, representatives of partner organisations had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with current practice in the cross-border region and additionally acquaint themselves with legislation in both countries through study visits and workshops on this topic. Furthermore, the workshops provided them with additional information and numerous examples of good practice, all presented by experienced professionals. A special emphasis was made to supportive counselling services, as a service being implemented in Priboj, and to the topic of supported housing for young people becoming independent, which was in detail, theoretically and practically, processed during the three-day training course.

Over the course of the project, representatives of institutions and organisations dealing with social protection from Priboj and Bijelo Polje visited local social work centres in Šabac and Novi Sad. This study tour has brought them additional and valuable experience that shall certainly contribute to improving their own work. During the same trip, representatives of partner organisations attended an expert meeting of the Serbian Association of Social Work Centres in Divčibare.

Approximately 60 children from Bijelo Polje and Priboj had the opportunity to participate in five-day camps organised on two occasions in Drvengrad and Žabljak. 10 experts were engaged to work with the children through daily creative and educational workshops, excursions and friendly dinners, in order to empower them and increase their awareness of environmental protection and understanding and respect for diversity. Interactive work resulted in the development of ideas and the strengthening of cooperation between young people.

As a result of the children’s work camps, but also other project activities, a final project event was organised in the Cultural Centre presenting the work and achievements of children who had been involved in the project. The children from Priboj and Bijelo Polje lead and devotedly participated in this manifestation, while the visitors were mostly their friends from primary and secondary schools, as well as children under the care of the Association for Support to Mentally Underdeveloped Persons.


Rada Djerić, Director of the Centre for Support to Children and Family Bijelo Polje

“As a consequence of the successful implementation of the project ‘Through Professional Cooperation to Better Services’, good cooperation was achieved between the two municipalities – Bijelo Polje and Priboj. There has been a quality exchange of knowledge and experiences on the following topics: Foster Care, Supportive Housing, SOS Helpline and Mediation.

Thanks to two already realised camps, children from two different social categories from Bijelo Polje and Priboj improved their communication skills and knowledge. By attending camps, the children became familiar with the importance of multiculturalism, acceptance of diversity and respect for the aforementioned.”

Bojan Mihajlović, BA in Law

“We must emphasise that the positive effect of this project was the opening of a supportive housing service in Bijelo Polje by the Centre for Social Work Bijelo Polje. Through this project, colleagues from Priboj had been able to share their experiences and knowledge through organised training courses, which resulted in the opening of a supportive housing service.

In addition, we organised training courses by hiring skilled persons employed at the Centre for Social Welfare, who are envisaged to work in the Supportive Housing service of Bijelo Polje, thus ensuring the sustainability of the project.”

Zoran Polić, Director of the Social Welfare Centre Priboj

“The project ‘Through Professional Cooperation to Better Services’ is the logical continuation of the ‘Without Borders Because of Children’ project, which was implemented by the same partners within the first call for cross-border cooperation between Serbia and Montenegro and which established a solid foundation for long term cooperation between the Centre for Social Work Priboj and the Centre for Child and Family Support Bijelo Polje and the municipalities of Priboj and Bijelo Polje. A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed by all the actors mentioned below and I am sure that we shall cooperate in the future and continue in implementing the following steps.”

Milanka Jevtović Vukojičić, BSc. in Social Work

“It gives me great pleasure to see that the supportive housing service for young people who are becoming independent is flourishing in Bijelo Polje; the knowledge that we gained in Priboj from Montenegrin trainers, especially in relation to the operation of the SOS phone, shall be useful in our further work, due to the fact that a shelter for victims of domestic violence has been operational within the auspices of the Centre for Social Work Priboj for ten years.”