In 2014, the war in the eastern part of Ukraine began . It resulted in socio-economic crisis in the whole country. The annexation of the Crimea in February 2014 and the beginning of a still arising conflict had major consequences for millions of Ukrainians. 10 000 people died, 23 000 were injured and 1 800 000 were deprived of a roof over their heads and forced to escape from the conflict zones.
Hundreds of thousands of people had no choice but to restart their lives far away from home, without the minimum stability and a sense of security.

The biggest number of “internally displaced persons” (which is their official status) moved to Kharkiv, a 1,5 million city located in the eastern part of Ukraine, 50 km from the Russian border. Kharkiv and Kharkiv Oblast became a new home for over 180 000 people. After fulfilling the first needs like finding a place to live or a job and adapting to the new reality, another problems appeared. War trauma, suffering after the loss of relatives and longing for home and the past life created a great need for psychological support.

HumanDoc Foundation and local psychologists decided to create a place where displaced people could find the psychological help. In 2015, thanks to a financial support from Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (a part of “Polska Pomoc” program), the foundation began its activities as ARTE – Support and Integration Centre for Displaced People in Kharkiv.

The aim of the project was to create an open and inviting space where those in need would be able to get the professional help from our psychologists. In Dmitrivska Street 5 there is a place which functions seven days in a week to support people who suffer the consequences of war.

We renovated the place and adjusted it to the particular needs as well as equipped it with cameras and computers so it could meet the highest standards.
ARTE Centre gives the opportunity for displaced people to have a better start in their new lives. To minimise the feeling of exclusion, we focus on strengthening the bonds with local society and cooperation in the city area. Our psychologists give free pieces of advice and consultations by conducting group and private therapies for children, teenagers and adults. They use techniques and methodswhich have not been used in Ukraine before. Thanks to the determination of our co-workers, we were able to create support groups for families which lost their relatives. We also aimed to help people who suffer from loneliness and disabilities. Our actions took place in different locations around Kharkiv and Kharkiv Oblast. Psychologists and volunteers from ARTE Centre regularly visit temporary housings for the displaced people, orphanages and pediatric units in hospitals. Among other methods, we use Art Therapy to work with the patients. Our co-workers use means like art, film, photography or music on a daily basis. In Dmitrivska 5 you can find theatre groups such as Magia Teatru, Playback Teatr as well as a crew of therapists disguised as clowns who visit children in orphanages and hospitals.
An important part of our work is also helping parents of children with intellectual disabilities or problems with socialising at school.
A great part of ARTE Centrum’s success is the selfless help of over 50 volunteers. They were trained and provided with skills and knowledge that enabled them to complete their tasks. They could also get psychological support and supervision once a month.

Up to three thousand people benefit from the centres’ offer every month. Furthermore, between May and December 2016 we were able to help sixteen thousand people, eight thousand of which were attending individual or group therapies. The remaining eight thousand got support in our integration activities.

The aim of the project is also to improve qualifications of our co-workers. We make sure the help we provide is fully professional. The result of the situation in Ukraine is a huge demand for psychological support. During trainings conducted by Polish specialists from F43 Foundation we emphasised areas like post-traumatic stress syndrome and first psychological aid. Our co-workers were also provided with monthly supervisions and psychological consultations.

The project was co-financed by Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a part of the Polish project on development cooperation.

The project is co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Polish development aid programme.