From the 30th of September- the 2nd of October, together with YMCA Slovakia and YMCA Moldova, we have been hosted by YMCA Romania for the refugee skilling and support workshop.
The location of the program was in the northwestern town of Baia Mare.
The program was designed in a training format to enable us to better understand the concepts of eDU hubs (psychosocial, integration, and employability support centers) and mobile youth centers – much needed in the countries bordering Ukraine where the necessity of psychosocial support and integration for refugees fleeing the war is a priority.
The “Refugee Skilling and Support” project leverages YMCA’s existing and significant pan-Europe presence by establishing community hubs that assist in skills development and connecting to employment opportunities – and other wrap-around services – for Ukraine refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in a holistic way.
YMCA Hubs will help people connect with local communities and resources, including access to safe and secure skills development and support services.
Hubs will be located in 4 high-need countries: Ukraine (5 locations), Romania (2 locations), Moldova (2 locations), and Slovakia (3 locations), utilising YMCA’s trusted brand and network of local YMCAs in these locations.
The program will be implemented over 6 months (October 2022 – April 2023) costing US$ 468,050, impacting more than 10,000 participants with the outcome of them being supported holistically including skill development and job seeking. The project is fully financed by external partners.
The trainers Alina Pop, Secretary General of YMCA Romania, and expert in eDU hubs, currently managing the ROUA Community Center for refugees, in Baia Mare, together with Cosmin Catana, trainer on mobile youth centers, and the initiator of the first mobile youth center in Romania represented an invaluable practical and technical resource for the four movements involved in the program.
The first day of the program was dedicated to sharing a bit about the grassroots, local realities, and understanding the wants and needs of the young people and families the YMCA is serving in Romania, Slovakia, and Moldova. The delegates from each member organization had the chance to visit the ROUA Community Center and the wonderful community of Ukrainian beneficiaries of the services.
These meetings and interactions are great conversation starters, leading to a practical exchange of good practices and insights.
Over the second day, led by Cosmin Catana, we delve deep into the topic of mobile youth work. It has been a practical session on narrowing down the wants and needs of beneficiaries and young people we provide services to – practical training on creating mobile centers adapted for the needs of the youth. The session also included valuable lessons on how to identify the real needs of vulnerable groups and communities.
The session concluded with practical tips on building and creating a mobile youth center, and an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages they come with. The main takeaway message is that mobile youth centers are real game changers when trying to reach out to vulnerable communities, especially those based in remote locations or villages.
The final leg of the workshop was led by Alina Pop, on establishing community centers that provide psychosocial support, integration, and employability support for Ukrainian refugees, eDU hubs for short.
These centers would be a necessity in ensuring the societal integration of newly settled families into local communities. From language classes, skills building, and development, to legal advice, these elements are important in ensuring young people and their families have an equitable and smooth transition to the new reality.
The participants had the chance to also understand the need for quality standards in the work with refugee families, therefore the final session on designing the standards in youthwork within eDU hubs has been a very insightful process.
The output of the meeting was the creation of questionnaires designed to assess the needs, qualifications and requirements for every one of the beneficiaries coming from Ukraine. There have also been activity forms with unique activities for every country to service the need for skilling and support in key areas. However, the highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the guides for eDU and mobile centres, from concepts & standards to terms of references.
The participants also had the chance to explore the cultural dimension of the settings, to discover the multicultural dimension of the organization of YMCA Romania, the local community, and the rich multiethnic heritage that is a true connector, especially when designing projects such as this one.
Overall the participants from the four YMCA movements paved the way for a fruitful partnership that will enable skills-building and outreach within the local communities to provide equitable psychosocial support and employability opportunities for Ukrainians settled throughout the bordering countries in Romania, Moldova, and Slovakia.
Full album of the event is available below.