From 2016 to 2017 we carried out the project “ARTE – Support and Integration Centre for the Displaced in Kharkiv”. Our activities there were a form of response to the situation, which Ukraine had been facing since 2014.

In 2014 in Eastern Ukraine began war, which resulted in a socio-economic crisis in the whole country. Annexation of Crimea in February 2014 as well as the beginning of a military conflict, which lasts till now, brought about dire consequences for millions of Ukrainian people. Many of them lost the roof over their head and were forced to flee from the conflict-affected areas. Hundreds of thousands of people found themselves in a tragic situation overnight. More often than not, they were forced to start over, far away from their homes, without the feeling of safety and the possibility to ensure a decent life for their loved ones.

The highest number of the Internally Displaced Persons (this is their official status) come to Kharkiv – a city with 1.5 million inhabitants in the East of the country, 50 kilometers from the border with Russia. Kharkiv and Kharkiv Oblast have become a new home for over 180 000 people from the conflict-driven areas. After meeting their first needs, such as finding a flat, a job, adapting to the new reality, new problems began to arise. War traumas, suffering the loss of the loved ones, longing for family home and the life they used to have brought about significant needs of psychological support. Our Foundation together with the local partners decided to create a place, where the Internally Displaced may find psychological help. In 2016, thanks to the funding from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the Polish Aid program, ARTE – Support and Integration Centre for the Displaced in Kharkiv came into being.

The main objective of this project was to create a friendly, open space, where people in need for support could count on professional help of our psychologists. In Dmitrivska Street 5 we managed to bring into being a place, which works 7 days in week for those, who suffer the consequences of military conflict. We renovated and adjusted it to the needs of its main activities as well as we provided among others cameras and computers, so that the center could operate on the highest level possible.

The main task of ARTE Centre is to make the start in new life easier for the displaced persons. In order to minimize the feeling of exclusion, we decided to deepen the bonds with the local community and strengthen the cooperation in the city. Our psychologists offered free advice and consultations, ran group therapy sessions as well as the individual ones for children, youth and adults, based on the techniques and methods, which were not very common in Ukraine before. Thanks to the engagement and determination of our collaborators, we have managed to create a support group for the families, who lost their loved ones in the military conflict. The offer was directed also to the lonely and the disabled. The activities of the Centre took place in various locations in Kharkiv and Kharkiv Oblast. Psychologists and volunteers visited regularly the temporary estates for the displaced, orphanages, and pediatric hospital wards. Work with the beneficiaries of the center was based among others on artetherapy. In everyday work, our collaborators used as a tool in the therapy art, film, photography, music. In Dmitrivska 5 there are theatre groups like The Magic of Theatre, Playback Theatre, as well as a team of Hospital Clowns, that is a group of therapists dressed as clowns, who visit children in the hospitals and orphanages. A vital part of our activities constituted also work with parents, supporting them and their children with intellectual disabilities, who faced the problem of school socialization.

The success of ARTE Centre couldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the selfless and hard work of over 50 volunteers. They were trained, gained knowledge and skills, which were of vital importance while performing their tasks. Every mouth they had opportunity to participate also in the psychological supervision.
During these 2 years of ARTE’s activity, over 30 000 people have used the help and support offered there.

Another aim of the project was to raise the qualifications of our collaborators. We paid attention to the quality and professionalism of the services. Situation of Ukraine results in high demand for many kinds of support, but especially the psychological one. During the trainings conducted by the Polish experts from F43 Foundation, special emphasis was put on the activities related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and psychological first aid. Our partners could also count on monthly supervision and consultations with Polish psychologists.

Project co-funded under the Polish program of development cooperation
by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.