Family Support Centers are a new Caritas project aimed at establishing understanding.


During a week in the beginning of July, the Caritas Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy delivered a training session on the occasion of the start of the project “Creation of family support centers as a model for integration of internally displaced people and host communities in Ukraine”, implemented with support of Caritas Poland and Polish government. Representatives of Caritas Drohobych, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kamianske and Kryvyi Rih visited Kolomyia.

The start-up of the project was blessed by Vasyl Ivasiuk, the Bishop of the Caritas Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy. Local and polish speakers participated in the training. Vice president of Caritas Ukraine, Father Andriy Nahirniak, presented a topic “Ethic standards and creation community”. Oksana Ivankova-Stetsiuk shared with the audience models for the integration of IDPs among the local citizens. The training highlight was a team building practice that is an important aspect in cooperation with beneficiaries as a part of project implementation.

‘The concept of the project arose last year when we felt that the humanitarian aid was not enough. Together with Polish partners we analyzed people’s needs and understood that the most strategic goal was to teach people how to exist together. The family is the basis of these relations. Our specialists have drawn up necessary programs, and now we have three years to implement them’, Maksym Bondarenko, Caritas Ukraine Coordinator says. According to him, the events of last three years in the east brought us a lot of sufferings and pain, but along with them we received new challenges, which with a correct approach might bring essential benefits.

The project will be mostly focused on family relationships and overcoming a generation gap. Project coordinators and organizers consider these aspects to be extremely important as all of us come from a family. A family as a unit takes a particular place in the organization of social aid. For example, in Poland the assistance to family members is initially provided by local self-governing authorities. The main objective of these regional family support centers is to provide assistance and social integration to the target groups determined by the law: children, families, elderly people, ill and disabled people.

One of the Center’s tasks is provision of assistance to those who face difficulties with integration into the society and people with the IDP status. The center develops a social support package – social support to separate groups of clients using resources of local communities. The social support is understood as development of skills necessary for an independent and active life, organization in the society assistance rendered by families, other persons, groups, civil organizations and companies, material support and other activities in accordance with the provisions of the law on social support. A family assistant plays an important role in working with a family. They are appointed when challenges arise to act as a guardian and mentor. The Family assistant works with a family under its consent, with a high-level of involvement from its members in the work process, and encourages the family to an active cooperation in implementation of the developed work plan.

The project “Creation of family support centers as a model for integration of internally displaced people and host communities in Ukraine” has an important goal to unify and integrate Ukrainians.

The main objective of the Centers is to raise the level of social integration between the IDPs and local citizens by creating a common understanding between people. In particular, between IDPS and local families (including their family members, people affected by military operations) with the help of common needs: creative leisure, education, information and experience exchange.  Caritas staff help settle social disputes, especially with local self-governing authorities and educational institutions, facilitate and promote social adaptation by organizing different trainings, group meetings, integration events and therapy courses.

Research results and recommendations prove the urgent need for improving the communication between different social groups in Ukraine (IDPs, local communities, families who lost their loved ones during the war – this concerns both IDPs and local citizens) and bureaucratic institutions, as well as psychological and social assistance to help people decrease the stress level, believe in their own strength, open to a neighborly support and overcome stereotypes.

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