YMCAs from 19 countries were represented at this event held in Gdynia, Poland, from 9 to12 of February 2023. That was a visible sign of solidarity in common work, emphasized by the presence of YMCA Europe`s Secretary General – Juan Simoes Iglesias, representative of Executive Committee, Richard Schweitzer and the online address of Carlos Sanvee, World YMCA`s Secretary General.
In European YMCAs there are many valuable initiatives actions, events and programmes that are supposed to help people who had to leave they homes, and countries and stay in a new environment without a clear time perspective.
That is a difficult situation for the refugees but also a challenge for the hosting communities who must adjust to new demographic structure, changes in labour market, education, and different social behaviors.
For YMCA staff and volunteers all that means necessity of finding effective ways of help to the refugees a and local communities to live normally despite the changes.
The participants who came to Gdynia were the people who are involved in everyday work with refugees, and the presented and shared practices were supposed to help them and the others in dealing with problems. The shared cases were not only successful stories.
The areas of work were chosen as the most common groups of problems associated with massive migrations: dwelling, employment, childcare, education, relationships with the locals and mental health issues. The participants brought their personal experience, and that cannot be substituted by any simulations or theoretical discussion. Real life verifies the value of methods.
In Gdynia, the participants could see an example of YMCA Europe cooperation with local organizations in the field of employment and social integration. That were examples of practical approach to real problems with all the good outcomes as well as with challenges and failures on the way.
We believe that the conference will result not only with planning another conference, but also with cooperation between YMCAs from various places, within concrete projects for refugees. Meetings in person give such unique chance.
The actions of the YMCA projects supporting the Ukrainian refugee communities all around Europe are materialized in the psychosocial and integration assistance that every child and family is benefiting from. By means of our collective fundraising campaign, YMCAs are implementing projects all over Europe. And our commitment is to continue to do so.