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Dedication of Cardiff Physiotherapist to Bulgaria's Disabled Children

5 July 2005 - 9:10am

The role of Viv Williams, a retired Cardiff physiotherapist, in the planning, setting up, organisation and training programmes of a centre for disabled children in Varna, Bulgaria

Since 1993, Viv Williams, a retired Cardiff physiotherapist has been involved in the planning, setting up, organisation and training programmes of Karin Dom - a centre for disabled children in Varna, Bulgaria which now has EU recognition.

Karin Dom was set up by Mr. Ivan Stancioff, former Bulgarian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, when a visit to the Children's Centre in the Heath, Cardiff left him impressed by the treatment regimes available. The centre, located in a Black Sea villa, was built in 1909 by Dimitri and Anna Stancioff as a family house. Following restitution in Bulgaria in 1993, it was returned to the Stancioff family who offered it for use by the Karin Dom Foundation. "Karin Dom" means Karin's Home - in memory of Karin Guepin, a cousin of the Stancioff family who had Cerebral Palsy.

Attitudes towards disabled children in Bulgaria have remained institutionalised, so a major long-term objective of the centre is to encourage parents to take care of their children in the family home and the integration of children with special needs and their families into society.

Viv Williams, who returns to the centre regularly and has been involved in the organisation and implementation of training programmes and workshops around Bulgaria says:

"Our ultimate aim is to empower parents to lobby for the correct treatment of their children. Training is a model at Karin Dom and emphasis is placed on helping parents to help themselves. For many years they were advised to leave disabled babies in state care, but now the British attitude towards and approach to the treatment of disabled children is being more widely adopted at grass roots level in Bulgaria and is growing from the bottom up."

Viv Williams' Bulgarian ties have led to a study visit by members of the Karin Dom team to centres of excellence in the treatment of child disability and the re-education of disabled children in the Cardiff and Caerphilly area in October 2000. A visit to Cardiff and the surrounding area by a Bulgarian Ministerial Delegation followed in January this year. The trip, sponsored by the Department for Internal Development and organised at the Bulgarian end by Save the Children, included a meeting with Jane Hutt, Minister for Health and Social Services in the National Welsh Assembly.


For further information, please contact the press office on 020 7036 6163

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country's 35,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. Physiotherapy is Britain's fourth largest health profession after medicine, nursing and midwifery.


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