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Support, self-organization and coordination – important aspects of the support for communities in crisis situations

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Where to seek support in a crisis situation? Who to talk to about life? Who can help to implement an interesting social initiative? It is a short list of problems addressed by Ukrainians to Caritas. At present, they got an opportunity to participate in Caritas-Hub project. Support centers started to operate in Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv.

Center administrators will meet all interested, clear up the issue and readdress to a relevant specialist. Quite a lot of specialists are engaged in the project. Consultants of the crisis center will assess the person’s state, provide support, encourage and increase their self-esteem. If necessary, psychologists services will be also rendered. Different kinds of assistance are provided here, including brief consultations and long-lasting support, as quiet often people face complex problems requiring an efficient plan and qualified support. The task of experienced specialists in a community development center is to help all concerned Ukrainians make their cities comfortable and motivate local communities to take control over problems solving. The resource center, oriented to enhancement of the level of communities and advocacy of interests of vulnerable citizens will contribute to it too. It is a funny and exciting place, where volunteers work, permanent initiatives and different trainings are held. IDPs, children, oil people – all of them are welcome visitors of centers, where everybody can find something interesting. What is the secret of efficiency? First of all it is integrity, as most of specialists are assembled under one roof of support centers, which have launched their operations under the aegis of Caritas Ukraine since the beginning of 2017.

Activities are held as a part of Caritas Ukraine new project “Creation of multifunctional social centers for coping with crisis and self-help for persons and communities affected by the conflict in Ukraine” financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with the support of Caritas Germany. The project with the gross financing of EUR 5.6 million is designed for five years and was launched in January 2017. The project is mostly focused on population affected by the current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine – IDPs, citizens of the buffer zone and also persons living on the ungoverned territory, but often cross the boundary line. For this reason, cities, junction points for IDPs due to their proximity to the ATO zone (Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Zaporizhzhia and also Kyiv), were selected as basic for project implementation. Except for provision of the assistance to people in need, a considerable amount of attention is drawn to methodological approaches and cooperation with government institutions. Project staff understands that the main focus shall be landed on communities, as strong communities provide good environment for both permanent citizens and IDPs. That is why the core of the activities is assistance in increasing the resistance and self-assistance among the population, affected by the conflict, and vulnerable members of local communities.

Even though main offices are located in cities and a great deal of activities is concentrated there, project staff does not stay too long in the offices. Mobility is one of important approaches to the activity. Mobile groups visit cities of the buffer zone which require assistance in improving communities’ competence and development the most.

Support hubs consolidate a range of innovative approaches and implementation of socially relevant services, which satisfy needs of local citizens, and also serve the purpose of strengthening local communities. They include programs for temporary employment of representatives of vulnerable groups, facilities for children, which will allow parents to leave a child to an entertainer and solve social problems on their own, social clubs for the elderly, programs for children with disabilities. Each center will consider needs of its beneficiaries and local communities.

‘The unique feature of the project is that it comprises the possibility to render services for beneficiaries from different segments of the society. Moreover, unification of all directions into one center is rather efficient and far-reaching decision as a client can receive a wide range of services. The voluntary movement is also an important initiative for community development. And our project gives a unique opportunity to serve as a link between those who need help and whose who are willing to help’ says Valeriia Harmash, Project coordinator from Mariupol.

The key approach of the project is development of the community using efforts of its active participants. In view of this, micro-grant competition are to be held aimed at support of the communities affected by the military conflict in the east of Ukraine, facilitation of IDPs adoption to new living conditions as well as development of local communities. This will provide possibilities to support exciting initiative, backed up by active people not indifferent to the destiny of its community, who often do not have enough finances to implement their ideas. The priority shall be given to projects providing workplaces, improving infrastructure of residential areas, promoting a healthy life style, benefit education of the society and strengthen the role of civil society institutions.

Caritas Kramatorsk Support center9 Pivdenna Street, Kramatorsk

Opening hours: Monday – Friday, from 9.00am to 5.00pm

066 993 28 00

http://caritas-kram.org.ua/

Caritas Mariupol Support center

4 Bannyi lane, Mariupol

Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, from 10.00 to 4.00pm

097 174 31 54; 050 423 36 50

http://mcaritas.org/

Caritas Zaporizhizhia Support center

8 Semaforna Street, Zaporizhzhia

Opening hours: Monday – Friday, from 9.00am to 5.00pm

050-362-07-17, 067-208-16-59

https://www.facebook.com/caritaszp/

Caritas Kyiv Support center

7-b Mykytenko Street, Kyiv

Opening hours: Monday – Friday, from 9.00am to 5.00pm

044 512 00 85

http://www.caritas-kiev.org.ua/

The project foresees implementation of innovative approaches such as “Money for work” program, which primarily attracts people in crisis situations to provide socially useful services. Works to be carried out include home care social services for disabled people and solitary elderly people, cleaning of cities, educational and sport lessons for children and teenagers, minor repairs in people’s houses, services of the hairdresser, etc.  Local public bodies and public utility companies will provide temporary employment.  It is expected that after the end of the program, its participants will acquire new experience or refresh their professional skills which will help them find a permanent job and overcome current crisis situation.

It is expected that in 2017, services of centers will encompass not less than three thousand people. The first year is a kick-off year which will prove whether the planned activities are efficient or require any amendments. Stage-by-stage planning will allow the project to become efficient and flexible to needs of local communities. Caritas Ukraine staff and newly-established multifunctional centers hope the new project to help improve health and social well-being of vulnerable IDPs and citizens of host communities, persons affected by the conflict. Cooperation with local communities will only strengthen their resistance, self-organization and attract places where they live to the development process.

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