The conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which began in 2014, escalated into a full-scale armed invasion in February 2022, resulting in widespread destruction and displacement. Over 140,000 homes were destroyed, and hundreds of educational institutions were ruined. This led to the forced displacement of around 12 million Ukrainians, with over 7 million seeking temporary protection outside Ukraine, primarily in neighboring countries like Poland, Czechia, and Spain.
Poland received the largest number of Ukrainian refugees, with 1.4 million registered, including a significant percentage of women and children. Czechia had nearly 500,000 refugees, and Spain accommodated more than 130,000. These refugees initially faced challenges related to immediate support, such as food, shelter, medical care, and clothing, provided by the EU and Red Cross.
After a year of ongoing conflict, these refugees are transitioning into long-term migrants. They now encounter new barriers, including:
- Integration Challenges: Language barriers and a limited understanding of local cultures hinder their integration into host communities.
- Digital Literacy: Difficulties navigating digitalized bureaucracy due to inadequate digital literacy skills.
- Emotional Support: The need for psychological help and emotional support due to the continuous stress and fatigue caused by the conflict.
- Social Isolation: Struggles to form meaningful connections with local citizens, resulting in social disconnection and isolation due to differences in values, beliefs, and behaviors.
This project aims to address these challenges and empower Ukrainian refugees by providing tools for emotional management, facilitating social connections and a sense of belonging, and engaging them in creating sustainable livelihoods. The humanitarian support provided by participating organizations is evolving to meet the changing needs of these migrants as they transition from immediate crisis assistance to longer-term solutions.
The project aims to address the holistic needs of Ukrainian refugees, encompassing social, emotional, environmental, and digital well-being, with the goal of helping them rebuild their lives and contribute positively to their new communities and Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.
- Safe Social Spaces: Creating safe and supportive community centers where Ukrainian refugees can gather, connect, and organize various programs, workshops, and activities. These centers serve as hubs for maintaining cultural identity and connecting with family and acquaintances in Ukraine.
- Emotional Intelligence and Coping Mechanisms: Providing tools for emotional intelligence to help refugees deal with trauma and stress, including Ulysses syndrome, survivor guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. This includes individual and group counseling, mind-body practices, and emotional awareness training.
- Environmental Initiatives: Promoting awareness of environmental sustainability within the Ukrainian refugee community. This involves educating refugees on sustainable practices to prepare them for post-war ecological reconstruction efforts in Ukraine. These practices include adapting to limited resources, reducing waste, and potentially finding employment in sustainable industries.
- Digital Literacy: Enhancing digital literacy among refugees to improve their access to local online platforms, navigate websites and social media, and utilize digital tools for essential services, education, and employment. This also includes cybersecurity awareness and protection.
This project will address the needs through its main activities, namely:
Three transnational Meetings:
- A kick-off meeting in Spain, an intermediate meeting online, and a final meeting in Czechia.
- An 8-day training course in Spain, aimed at developing a unique program that equips long-term migrants with the tools and resources they need to thrive in their new environment, will be attended by 8 participants from each entity.
- Two learning participatory visits (4 days each) in Czechia and Poland, attended by two previously selected youth workers from each participating entity. In Czechia Petrklíč Help is going to share their knowledge on digital literacy and how to develop digital skills of immigrants, and in Poland Medeina Foundation will contribute to the project by sharing their expertise in establishing social spaces for disadvantaged groups like Ukrainian communities.
In order to reach beyond the participants of this project and out to a wider audience of the Ukrainian long-term migrants, as well as to spread the project’s results among the third sector entities, the following activities are planned:
- Three-months consultation period. Provide consultation regarding the particularities of implementing the S.O.S. Framework across all the stakeholders, experts and organizations involved. – Internal workshops – are carried out by youth workers of each participating entity involved in the project to share its findings among their peers and other young people in their local communities.
- One-day multiplier event. Each participating entity will hold it in their country to promote project outcomes and the interactive book.
- Web and other project dissemination activities include public relations and social media marketing.
Learning environmentally sustainable practices can help refugees to:
- adapt to a new environment with limited resources;
- use resources more efficiently, reduce waste, and save money;
- connect with locals who share values of sustainability;
- access new job markets by becoming skilled workers in sustainable industries, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and waste management;
- transfer the obtained knowledge on sustainable practices for post-war ecological reconstruction of Ukraine.
This will help to support a more environmentally friendly and sustainable future for the community as a whole. In today’s digital age, the project also seeks to improve DIGITAL ALPHABETIZATION for facilitating access to local online platforms, by equipping the refugees with the knowledge of the software and applications used locally, navigate the web pages and social media of the local communities, accessing public services, including healthcare, banking, and education, and communicating using messaging platforms and chats prioritized in the local communities. These skills would improve economic inclusion of the Ukrainian youth, engaging in social and civic activities, and employment. Improving digital skills of the refugees is also increasingly important for their cybersecurity, including the ability to identify and respond to threats such as phishing attacks and malware.
We distinguish the impact of the project in various areas, being:
PARTICIPATING YOUTH WORKERS. An impact of the activities described in work packages 2-5 includes:
- gaining new knowledge and skills related to creating a safe and supportive social space, developing healthy coping mechanisms, promoting environmental sustainability, and improving digital literacy;
- enhancing confidence in their abilities to work with refugees and support their needs, as well as develop leadership and communication skills; – obtaining a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by refugees, including emotional and psychological trauma, and learn about effective ways to support them;
- networking with other professionals in the field and building connections that can lead to future collaborations and partnerships.
The dissemination campaign and the implementation of the project’s outcomes will enable LONG-TERM MIGRANTS to:
- develop healthy coping mechanisms for trauma and stress;
- improve their digital literacy skills;
- learn sustainable practices that can help them adapt to a post-war environmental reconstruction;
- improve mental health;
- better integrate into the local community;
- increase employability, and economic inclusion.
The impact on the PARTICIPATING ORGANISATIONS will vary, depending on their areas of focus. Each partner will benefit more from certain aspects of the project than others. All the entities involved will have the opportunity to:
- provide new skills and knowledge in areas such as digital literacy, sustainable practices, and environmental issues and social space creation;
- increase their visibility by building relationships with the refugee community;
- develop their capacity to work with diverse groups;
- expand their presence online by disseminating inclusive and effective programs and services.
The project will have a SYSTEMIC IMPACT by promoting:
- tolerance and understanding of cultural, religious, and ethnic differences;
- promote peace and social cohesion between the communities;
- a more sustainable future for everyone in the community;
- increased cybersecurity and better access to public services, including healthcare, banking, and education.
The project’s impact can extend beyond the participating organisations and the refugee community and help OTHER ORGANISATIONS at local, regional, national or European level working with refugees or other marginalized groups to: – improve their programs and services, and – raise awareness among policymakers and public about the challenges faced by refugees and the importance of supporting them.
The dissemination campaign and the implementation of the project’s outcomes will enable a wider audience to benefit from the project’s results, including improved digital literacy skills, sustainable practices, and a more inclusive and supportive community.