Bulgaria benefits from respite centre’s magic touch

Bulgarian ministers visit The Firs

Harrow Council’s Outstanding residential centre The Firs is spreading its magic touch as far as Bulgaria through a charity founded by JK Rowling.

Lumos, which works to end the institutionalisation of children worldwide, brought a group of senior government ministers from Sofia to Harrow to meet staff at the respite unit and learn how they could provide similar services for children back home.

The Firs, rated Outstanding by Ofsted for eight consecutive years, provides flexible short breaks for children and young people with disabilities.  

Cllr Christine Robson, Children, Young People and Schools Portfolio Holder, said: “I’m so proud that The Firs is earning a great reputation far and wide for its outstanding service for children. The Bulgarian delegation was impressed and it’s exciting to think that our team’s hard work doesn’t just help children in Harrow, but will soon help children more than one thousand miles away.”

Bulgaria’s services for children with disabilities have historically been largely institution-based. The government is now trying to move more towards a model of community-based support. The visit was arranged with Lumos, the charity founded by Harry Potter author JK Rowling and the delegation included the deputy minister for labour and social policy and deputy mayor of Sofia.

They met staff at the Firs including manager Eithne Staunton, who said the visit was a “great success” and wonderful opportunity to influence positive change for children.