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How to improve the operation of the social service system in the Donetsk oblast?

The military conflict in eastern Ukraine has been going on for over six years. The ensuing economic and social crisis is worsening, and life in this area is becoming more and more difficult. These conditions have deteriorated the residents’ psychosocial state. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in demand for psychological support, medical assistance, and care services. A project carried out by PAH (Polish Humanitarian Action), in cooperation with its local partner, Zaporizhzhya Regional Charity Foundation Child Smile, aims at increasing access to high quality infrastructure and social services for groups that have been most affected by the war. Thanks to Polish Aid funds, assistance is provided in the form of improving the competences and skills of staff in social institutions and offering better availability of psychological support for those in need. Detailed maps of social services in the region have been prepared, for the residents to have access to full information about available services.

The first part of this initiative was implemented between 1 April and 31 December 2019. Social Initiatives Groups were created, made up of employees of social institutions and local activists. The second stage was launched on 1 January 2020 and will be continued till 30 September. It envisages training sessions for members of these groups who will be instructed by PAH how to prepare projects and effectively submit grant applications for the creation of Social Centres for Psychological Services in four selected towns. Funds will be provided for the purchase of equipment, furniture, and other necessary articles.

The activities are carried out in eastern Ukraine, in the following towns of the Donetsk oblast: Avdiivka, Toretsk, Siversk (the Bakhmut district), Krasnohorivka, Soloviove, Ocheretyne, and Pervomaisk (the Yasynuvata district).

Moreover, PAH is planning to conduct an information campaign on the local and regional level to draw the attention of authorities and other members of the community to the problem of limited access to basic social services. Educational events will also take place, including workshops and study visits for members of the Social Initiatives Groups, aimed at improving their knowledge and skills related to the delivery of social and psychological services.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, PAH has taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its employees and project beneficiaries. Scheduled actions are carried out in a partially altered form; all group activities will be conducted remotely until the epidemiological situation has stabilised. When delivering equipment, the employees will be provided with personal protective gear (such as masks and gloves) and will keep a safe distance from one another.

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