The closing conference for the project "Improving Access to Legal Aid for Vulnerable Groups, via the Implementation of a Pilot Scheme for “Primary Legal Aid Hotline” and Regional Consultative Centres" was held on the 6th of November in Sofia. The project is financed under programme BG14 "Judicial Capacity-building and Cooperation" with PO the Ministry of Justice. The beneficiary of the project is the National Legal Aid Bureau

The participants in the event were welcomed by Ms. Nadejda Iordanova, Head of the Cabinet of the Minister of Justice, Ms. Elena Cherneva, President of the National Legal Aid Bureau, H.E. Ms. Guro Vikor, Ambassador of Norway to Bulgaria, Ms. Hane Unher, Head of Department in the Council of Europe (project partner) and Ms. Ralitsa Negentsova, President of the Supreme Bar Council. 

The project budget is 337 863 Euro and the implementation time 18 months. A telephone hotline (0700 18 250) for providing primary legal aid has been created as well as 2 centers for legal aid in Vidin and Sliven. The project also aims to initiate amendments in the law in order to foster the process of providing legal aid. During the course of implementation a total of 9 701 consultations have been provided via the hotline as well as 1 427 meetings were held in the centers. Because of the huge interest towards the service, steps have been made to continue providing the service beyond the end of the project. In addition, in 2016  five more centers will be opened in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Kardjali and Yambol.

Ms. Ivanka Ivanova, Programme Director of the Open Society Institute took part in the event with a presentation on the impact assessment of the pilot services of the National Legal Aid Bureau. The presentation helped included a description of the legal aid service users as well as the existing problems in the field.