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Social integration support of IDP’s in Ukraine

The annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts led to mass movements of Ukrainians. In their new places of residence, the internally displaced persons are now struggling with many social and economic problems. They need access to information and local services. The case management approach is needed, to individually assess the needs and refer to the competent service providers, followed by monitoring of the response.

The efforts of public and social organisations continue to be primarily focused on satisfying the basic needs, i.e. providing financial support, ensuring humanitarian aid and shelter, while the psychological problems and emotional difficulties remain unsolved. There is a lack of comprehensive aid for internally displaced persons, oriented at long-term support. Ukraine does not have adequate funds to pay for specialists to work with displaced persons. The number of specialists is declining, which has an adverse effect on the quality and accessibility of services.

Social integration support of IDP’s in Ukraine

The project was implemented from 1 January to 31 December 2016. Activities were carried out in the following localities in eastern Ukraine: Dnipro, Kamianske, Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhia and Melitopol. The project implemented by Caritas Polska and the local partner was Caritas Ukraine.

The project focused on the most vulnerable group in the Ukrainian society, i.e. internally displaced persons. The aim of activities was to reduce anxiety and stress among children and adults, to positively influence their wellbeing, to integrate them with the local community and satisfy their basic psychological needs. In addition, the project offered a holistic approach to the problems and needs of internally displaced persons, through the implementation of an integrated case-management method.

The project consisted of three activities:

Activity 1 consisted of the establishment of support centres for children and families as well as providing psychological help. In each centre, the psychosocial services included individual consultations, group sessions for adults and children, a telephone helpline, supervision for staff (animators, social workers) and a psychologist. The animators conducted recreational and development activities for children, with educational, sports, art and cultural activities, group sessions for adults on matters concerning the family and children, and in addition supported groups working to strengthen family ties.

Activity 2 involved social support for adults, including elderly people, and integration measures to overcome barriers between the displaced persons and the host community. There were integration activities, seminars, discussions, forums and open events focusing on maintaining respect through tolerance and acceptance. All activities were conducted by qualified psychologists and social workers. There were also two volunteers from Poland who for one and a half months helped in integration activities, registration of beneficiaries and in monitoring the provided aid. They also took part in the development and implementation of new forms of aid.

Activity 3 included individual work with internal refugees by the case-management method. Thanks to this method, 450 of displaced persons (or families) were ensured an individual approach, with an assessment of their situation, planning, assistance and support, as well as intensification of all available means to ensure quality and long-lasting results. One case was continued for four months by one manager trained for this purpose.

The project human capital served the priority within the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme 2016-2020, point b) increased social integration of internally displaced persons, including in particular elderly persons and children, and point a) better access to social services, health care infrastructure for internally displaced persons, particularly for elderly people and children, including psychological support.

Social integration support of IDP’s in Ukraine

The following are the most important results achieved from the work of psychologists and animators:

  • Identification of severe stressful situations following experienced trauma. Most beneficiaries took up therapy.
  • The stress threshold was significantly lowered.
  • Habits were developed to help cope with stress.
  • Restoration of the sense of being needed and a friendly attitude among children.
  • An open attitude was restored in communication, which is extremely helpful in adaptation.
  • A family atmosphere was created (friendly relations were established among many beneficiaries).
  • Help was provided in adaptation to the school curricula for children and young people.
  • Identification of beneficiaries with an attitude of entitlement (in some cases priorities were successfully redirected and self-improvement was begun).
  • Support was provided to help people understand the changes and enable them to return to normal life.
  • Professional support was provided to strengthen family ties.
  • A noticeable improvement was observed in educational skills and relations in married couples, including a positive trend of involvement among men and fathers (which is rare in the Ukrainian environment).
  • Faith in one’s own strength was improved (some beneficiaries salvaged relationships, found jobs).
  • Displaced persons were helped to adapt in the new environment.
  • Stereotypes and inculturation were overcome (particularly east-west travel).
  • Displaced persons were helped to assimilate and integrate and to create new prospects for the future.

Within the project, a study was carried out, under the title: “Case-management in Caritas Ukraine. Monitoring of provided aid”.

The most important achievements of case-managers:

  • eight wards found a job and became financially independent;
  • missing documents were renewed;
  • all children of wards who needed help at school went to school on 1 September, underwent medical examinations, were provided with school supplies.