INTEGRATION OF UKRANIANS IN THE HELIOS PROGRAMME: The HELIOS program is a national level refugee integration program, managed by the IOM. It is based on five axes:
- Housing: offering cash for rent for a period of time (usually 12 months) and helping them through the process of accessing the house market in Greece.
- Job: several job counsellors support the beneficiaries of the program in whatever issue related with job seeking or starting their own business.
- Education: the education component is based on Greek and Soft Skills classes. Either online or “in vivo”, our students complete 360 teaching hours.
- Integration Monitoring: the beneficiaries receive support and advice on issues such as banks, hospitals, schools, asylum service etc.
- Awareness: an awareness campaign targeting locals in being implemented.
YMCA Thessaloniki has been an implementing partner of the program since its inception in 2019.
From July 2022, the program is open to the Ukrainian population. Although they are not strictly refugees, but rather they are under the temporary protection regime, they are offered all the services of the program.
Since the day that program allows the registration of these citizens, more than 100 people have been registered in our center. At this moment we already have two groups “in vivo” and one group online.
SUMMER CAMP FOR UKRANIAN CHILDREN
- Children from the war aged from 6 to 14 years old participated in our summer camping programs in the Camp Sites of YMCA Thessaloniki in Pelion and Chalkidiki.
- Children were coming from vaious cities of Ukraine, mainly from Odessa and Mariupol.
- The camp lasted from August 16th until August 30th.
- All these children returned back either to the city of Thessaloniki, Greece or to Ukraine.
There was great excitement and emotion from the participation. The feed back they gave us was really encouraging and positive. Some of the activities offered to the kids were the visits to Ancient Stageira, Arnaia (Folklore Museum, Textile Museum Agios Stefanos,) White Tower, Basketball Museum YMCA and Agios Dimitrios.
As we did last semester, children of Ukrainian origin will be included in the scholarship program so that they can regularly attend artistic, sports or creative activities offered by YMCA Thessaloniki.
YMCA Centre Azur, a YMCA France member tourism centre located in Sanary sur mer, organised a Franco-German youth exchanges with its partner YMCA Erfurt. This one-week event, on the theme of integration through commitment, brought together young French and German people, a Ukrainian refugee at YMCA Centre Azur and two young Ukrainian refugees in Germany.
YMCA France asked the YMCA Europe Solidarity Fund to support the participation of the two young refugees in Germany. The young Ukrainian woman who was welcomed at YMCA Centre Azur, after being helped by YMCA France, YMCA Le Rocheton and YMCA Paris, continues her journey. Wishing to become a French teacher in Ukraine, she has just left for Poitiers, a city in the west of France where she will join a foreign language university. A video of Alissa when she arrived in France.
Currently we are facilitating two Bi-lingual Advocacy Drop-In Clinics for Ukrainian refugees and their Hosts.
Since the beginning of the war over 50 Ukrainian adults have received support in relation to their immigration status, access to welfare, healthcare, education and housing.
In September we started facilitating weekly coffee mornings with access to creche for Ukrainians and their Hosts. We’ve also been providing community English classes. 3 We received funding from YMCA Europe towards our work with Ukrainian newcomers in our area.
- As per September 1st , 44,801 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Sweden under the Temporary protection directive.
- Around 11 000 people have received residency in accordance with national law on distribution between municipalities. 60% got residency in the municipality where they were already settled, however the migration authorities are expecting that figure to go down when the almost 25 000 who has applied have received residency. This is problematic since most Ukrainian refugees (over 75%) arrived in March and April and have already settled in and for example found their place in a local YWCA-YMCA.
- Local Ys in Sweden have welcomed around 1000 Ukrainians to their activities (including summer camps), arranged targeted activities or supported Ukrainians to set up their own organisations and activities in their premises.
- YWCA-YMCA of Sweden has applied for state grants to support local YWCA-YMCAs working with Ukrainian refugees. This is for work that has already been conducted and for the rest of the year.
- On august 24 YMCA Central (Stockholm) received a “Letter of recognition” from the Ukrainian ambassy in Stockholm during a ceremony in Stockholm. They received the honor for their work with Ukrainian refugees that they have conducted together with the newly established Swedish-Ukrainian organisation House of Ukraine.
The refugees are still coming to Poland, but now this migration is much less spontaneous. The migrants are better prepared and often are helped by their family members who 4 emigrated earlier. It happens that they resign from the assistance of YMCA in dealing with formalities in embassies and offices.
The emigration to Japan via YMCA has nearly stopped. Also returns to Ukraine are common.
Now, YMCA Europe and our partners in Poland focus on integration of the immigrants with the Polish communities and relocation from the capital to smaller cities and villages. Up to now YMCA Europe (YE) and their partners in Poland have implemented the following projects:
- An integration city camp "Sports and Culture – Days and Nights" (May). This pilot showed a direction of integration. Video report
- An integration sports summer camp in the mountains: video report
- An integration day camp in Warsaw. Learn more
- Project "Ukrainian holidays in small schools" – preparation for relocation (no report yet)
- Groups of Ukrainian children attend sports activities 2-3 times a week in 5 places in Warszawa. Their parents (mostly mothers) are rather passive, don't have own initiatives.
- The FLY foundation in Gdynia, another partner of YE, runs Polish language courses for over 100 people and helps Ukrainian women getting jobs in the harbours and shipyards
- Up to August YE was cooperating with YMCA Japan – 71 cases of migration have been assisted. The report of YMCA Japan about their work for refugees from Ukraine is under this link.
- 1 family was helped in transit to Scotland and 1 to the USA (6 months of waiting in this case).
The plans of YMCA Europe and its partners for the next weeks and months:
- Launching a project of self-support for Ukrainian women in Warsaw.
- Building and consolidating the leaders of partner organizations and businesses. They are expected to form a base for a restored YMCA movement in Poland in the future.
- Local YMCAs have opened their services and programmes for Ukrainians and have prepared their facilities such as camp sites for any future needed accommodation. Among the associations, Helsinki YMCA has earlier experience in providing recreational activities directly for reception centres.
- Many local YMCAs are offering a variety of their recreational activities for Ukrainian children and youth for free at least until the end of the year.
- YMCA Finland opened a small funding round for the local YMCAs in the beginning of the summer and received applications, both from small and bigger local Y’s. The activities organized during summer included for example camp days, where families had a chance to relax, spend time together and engage in fun recreational activities.
- Another round of funding was opened last month for activities that will be organised during the rest of the year.
A message from Newcomer Connections at the YMCA of Greater Saint John in Canada.
As Ukrainians continue to arrive in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, we have been supporting them through our various federally and provincially funded programs and services.
Many Ukrainian newcomers are attending English language training, employment programs, benefiting from settlement and school supports and have enrolled their children in summer camps, our daycares and now school. We have received an generous donation from our Community Foundation to support Ukrainian through our Ukraine Welcome Fund should there be financial barriers they face. Many have been actively engaged in volunteering with us, participating in our events and supporting other newcomers arriving in our community. We look forward to continue welcoming Ukrainians and all newcomers in our region as we help them settle, belong and ignite their potential.
On 20-21 October 2022, the 7th Meeting of the European Migration Forum will take place. This meeting is organized by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee.
The Migration Forum is a platform for dialogue between civil society and the European Institutions on issues relating to migration, asylum and the integration of non-EU country nationals.
The subject of this meeting is “Youth inclusion: key to successful migrant integration”. YMCA Europe Staff has met with members of the YMCA Europe Working Group on Refugees/Migrants to prepare for this meeting.
This information is edited by the Chair of the YMCA Europe Working Group on Refugees and Migrants. The text is at the responsibility of the authors.
Feel free to share this update within your YMCA network. New contributions for this “newsletter” by any YMCA in Europe are welcome. Submit before 15th of October to ed[at]ymcaeurope.com
New YMCA projects with/for refugees from Ukraine can be added to the YMCA Europe refugee projects database here.