The target group – young people in the age group 15-29 year olds incl. volunteers specificaly between the age of 24 and 29 – faces complex challenges that are not covered by the conventional employment programs for people with disabilities. These people experience difficulties in social inclusion and mental health problems that traditional employment measures do not take into account. Uncertainty and exclusion are major barriers to job search, on the one hand, and social stigma and lack of information are sufficient reasons from the perspective of the employers on the other.

The project, through the identified problem in Bulgaria, seeks a new pan-European solution for achieving sustainable employment for the target group. A complex, integrative, multidisciplinary approach will be created and implemented to attract and motivate the target group and build positive expectations and sustainable attitudes towards inclusion in life and employment. Through a number of factors, the “Hidden Likes” innovation program is aimed at increasing the confidence in the target youths and thus provoking their inclusion, activation and support on the labor market, with regard on to the specificity of Roma partipants. The Hidden Likes Houses will create a space for professionals, NEETs and their relatives to work together to remove the trust and integration of the target group into the work environment.This house of young people, which will be built in Bulgaria and will after evaluation, in three more partner countries, will be developed on three levels: 1. Recogmition of present isolation through motivation and positive emphasis on the individual qualities of each individual through digital technologies and social networks; 2. Provision of psychological and social support through communication, volunteering, healthy lifestyle, achieving emotional stability, work with families; 3. Provision of support when looking for internships or employment through training of employers, realizing of contacts, and monitoring in the first year of work. Thus, as the metaphor of “hidden likes” suggests, the center will focus on exposing the hidden qualities of the targeted youth to the community and building cofidence in them. The multidimensional methodology will combine a set of support mechanisms to motivate, engage and support the target youth through the whole processs.

This method implies an innovative understanding of one of the most common problems in modern Europe, yet a sphere that lacks sufficient research. By analyzing the specific needs of the target group, developing a multidimensional solution to the problem and applying it to target youth, their families and friends, as well as future employers, the project offers a comprehensive solution to the problem. Its successful implementation creates the basis for the development of a common European framework to address the problem and thus provides a global solution not only for the labor market but also for society as a whole.

Research phase

The work package aims to create a detailed perspective on the positioning of the target group on the labor market, the opportunities they have and the challenges they face, and to adapt a working mechanism to engage the target group and provide more information to employers on the special needs and the unique qualities of these people. Through continuous work with NEETs on mental health issues, their friends, families and future employers, a broad range of research issues need to be addressed to create an innovative strategy in this area. In particular, the research phase work package will include: conducting interviews and disseminating questionnaires among NEET and their relatives; creating focus groups;close cooperation with partners, with a particular focus on the experience of partners from Norway and Iceland on the ground; conducting a national survey in Bulgaria and local studies in Latvia, Hungary and Ireland; creating data analysis and a five-step study report: interests, wishes / expectations, worries, attitudes and benefits.

The expertise of our Norwegian and Icelandic partners is to serve as evidence of a detailed and objective study. Representing one of the best social systems in modern Europe and with a special focus on research and analysis, our partners from Northern Europe will make a valuable contribution to the overall design and implementation of the project.The completion of in-depth research is to create a basis for 1) the development of an innovative multidimensional methodology to improve the performance of the target group on the labor market; and 2) the conduction of information campaigns among employers on the specifics of the target group and the popularization of the topic as a whole. We are planning to create a mechanism to integrate NEETs into the labor market and society as a whole, which will include both soft and harsher solutions to the problem. By providing therapeutic services, mentoring, education, and second-chance opportunities, people at the Hidden Likes Houses will develop a wide range of social and practical skills that will make them experience social inclusion.Individual meetings of NEET and their relatives with our specialists and volunteers, along with the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, close to nature and the outside world, on the other hand, will create the necessary environment for the experience of personal growth and harmony. Through the study and the creation of an innovative interdisciplinary method in this area, the project will improve the employment situation among the target group and thus provide a basis for a better informed and socially oriented society.

Transition employment phase

This work package specifically addresses strategies for activating and improving motivation among young people with mental health problems in the labor market. In the core is a creation of “Hidden Likes Youth House” for 3 years in Bulgaria and for 16 months in Latvia, Hungary and Ireland. After completing the study and creating an interdisciplinary method, the project will be promoted among target group members to motivate them to join the program. After having developed a wealth of experience in this field, the leading and partner organizations in the project have already come to the conclusion of the most important factors that influence young people’s decision to start work. These include a pleasant work atmosphere, an opportunity to get positive feedback and emotional support, good communication with colleagues and the management team. Our experience also proves that opportunities for volunteering and internship are the first step towards employment and labor activation. Due to all these reasons, the project aims to create a variety of activities to engage tje target youths and help them build better social and work skills.

We believe that integration and independence are two vital principles for achieving these goals. People with mental health problems need to feel as an integral part of the community but at the same time be motivated to develop as individuals. That is why in this work package we will focus specifically on working with mentors, volunteers and professionals to create the necessary psychological base to provoke social engagement and activation in the target group.Working with employers, on the other hand, will aim to improve the information they have about the target group and to create a space for understanding on the labor market and society as a whole. Particularly the activities in this work package include: conferences and individual meetings with volunteers who will share how does volunteering help your individual growth; sharing practices; undergoing creative and sports tasks; promoting a healthier lifestyle; work in nature – gardening and working with animals; participation in creative workshops; working with friends and family; meeting with employers – all this is being done at the Hidden Likes Houses, youth centers for providing a safe environment for young people with mental health problems, their relatives, mentors, specialists. Completing all of these activities ensures that the circle is closed and all steps are taken in the process of motivation, inclusion, and self-realization. Thus, the project will provide all the necessary prerequisites for improving the employment status of the target group and increasing the number of persons affected by social inclusion. Finally, its results will be carefully analysed, using the expertise of our Italian partner in the sphere of social research, with the aim of providing clear evaluation on the methodology and the possibilities for its implementation on a global level.

Employment phase

The final phase of the project is aimed at providing ongoing support to the target group – youths with mental health problems – in the process of finding work and internships and beyond. The target youths – young people in the age group 15-29 years old, who experience mental health problems, and 10% of whom are part of the Roma population, will receive support in communicating with potential employers and developing professional skills before starting their careers. Moreover, they will continue to be part of the program and receive the necessary mentoring and assistance from specialists during the first year of their professional experience. In this way, people who have experienced serious psychological traumas in the past will be led in their path as independent, active and socially committed young leaders.

On the other hand, this final phase will ensure that the innovative methodology, developed through the creation of the Hidden Likes Houses , is promoted and evaluated on an international level in order to increase transnational cooperation on the labor market and to provide innovative approaches to reducing youth unemployment. To achieve this, participating organizations will hold conferences, prepare reports, and develop a European platform to exchange good practices and support in this area. This final evaluations will give answers on the mechanisms for global implementation of the methodology and the results from the program. The online platform, on the other hand, will create conditions for direct and long-lasting communication between former, current NEETs, mentors, specialists and employers. In that way, the project will have impact not only for the current development of the participants, but also for their confidence and health from then on. This will ensure a global solution to one of the taboo issues and most important problems of modern Europe – the mental health of young people. After all the phases of the project in total over 1300 young people will be involved not only as a direct beneficers but aslo as volunteers in the project activities and around 1040 of them are direct target groups – young people with mental health problems between 25 – 29 years old who are not working and not studing inc. 10 % roma.