YMCA Europe Mission in Poland (Adam Rychlik).
YMCA Europe is continuing cooperation with YMCA Japan in evacuation refugees from various places in Ukraine. Most of them come directly to Warszawa, but sometimes they come to other cities. Some groups come first to Moldova and then to Poland.
Since the beginning of war 31 people incl. 12 children have been evacuated in this way. The gained experience allows to shorten the period of waiting for leaving Poland. More problematic is transfer to the USA or Canada. The elderly couple who came to Poland on March 24 have not left Poland; they were trapped in Olsztyn one of them passed away – that's very sad for us.
YMCA Europe has gained a valuable partner: YWCA Poland. Thanks to this we have an office in Warszawa that we share. Also, we have a part-time employee, based in Warszawa which makes coordination easier. YE will support YWCA in implementation projects for Ukrainian mothers and children in rural areas.
YMCA Europe launched after school programme in Warszawa which is to integrate Ukrainian children and young people with their Polish age mates. The activities include sports, culture and learning languages. Except for children, who are the target group also local business and families are involved. There are some other potential partners for other target groups, however, this process will be started when the present structures become firm enough.
The plans of YMCA Europe in Poland for the next months:
- development of integrational activities that have been started (target is 90 children) ? preparations for summer actions – now 1 camp for 15-20 kids is secured ? select common projects with YWCA Poland
- extending network of YMCA Europe in Poland – gaining strategic stakeholders e.g. municipalities, governmental agencies, schools and strong NGOs that deal with education.
YMCA Ukraine (Viktor Serbulov).
Since the very begining of the military invasion of Russia on the territory of Ukraine on the 24th February 2022, the YMCA Ukraine National office started to work distantly, coordinating the activities of 17 local YMCAs located all over the country. Some of the local YMCAs continue their activities in the areas of active war actions: in Odessa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia region. Learn more
YMCA Ukraine on the national and local level focuses its activities, at this stage, on supporting of those, who are suffering from the war, namely who are on a move to more safe places, escaping from hostilities. 5,5 million Ukrainians had to go to other countries, millions of people are on move in Ukraine…
Many people lost their houses and need shelter, clothes, food, medicines, psychosocial support. YMCA Ukraine provides assistance to people in need, aiming first of all but not limited at children, youth, families, elderly people. More, than 20 tons of humanitarian aid were received from the international partners and distributed among the people in need by the YMCA Ukraine.
Since the start of the war, thanks to great international support, provided by the YMCAs in Europe and from all over the world, more than 40 000 people were reached by the YMCA Ukraine activities (see pictures in separate document). There is actual need to continue and develop mentioned activities as there is no evidence that the war will be finished soon.
Thanks a lot for your solidarity and support!
YMCA Europe (Hannah Sauer).
REFUGEE LIBRARY: RESOURCES TO SUPPORT ONGOING REFUGEE WORK.
We know that you are working hard in local and national YMCAs to help in the best way possible and want to thank you for your efforts! The past two months have been full of coordinating transport, accommodations and gathering of resources and slowly we are moving towards more long-term refugee support as well.
To support the work you are doing, YMCA Europe is collecting resources from all national YMCAs to be shared and used in a common Refugee Library.
We invite you to make use of it and contribute if you have resources on your own. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further suggestions or questions, or need additional support. The comment function of the document is enabled, so feel free to add your experiences and feedback to specific resources or regarding the Library in general within the document as well.
You can find the current library here.
YMCA North Down – Ireland (Monika Ciok-Giertuga)
YMCA North Down will be providing support to the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme in a partnership with the local council. Project will be piloted for 3 months. We’ll be facilitating advocacy surgeries for Ukrainian refugees and hosting families two mornings a week.
Our YMCA has been contacted by a number of local residents who requested our help with matching them with Ukrainian refugees. I’m working with Viktor (National General Secretary YMCA Ukraine) and Adam (YMCA Europe) on this issue. The main challenges at present seem to be lack of awareness of the scheme and security screening – there have been problems with some refugees trying to abuse the system. I’ll be working on a short leaflet raising awareness of the UK scheme and giving people the overview of their rights in the UK . The leaflet will be translated into Ukrainian and Russian and distributed among refugees in Ukraine and in Poland.
So far we haven't been able to match any local hosts and refugees but I'm aware that small numbers of Ukrainian refugees have started arriving in Northern Ireland. Local authorities are hosting advice clinics for newly arrived refugees across the province.
YMCA North Down prepared an information leaflet for Ukrainian refugees considering coming to Northern Ireland. The leaflet is available in English, Ukrainian and Russian and has been shared with YMCAs in Eastern Europe.
First Ukrainian refugees started arriving in Northern Ireland. The numbers are still low. To date about 250 refugees have arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme (this is on top of the refugees arriving via other routes). YMCA has been facilitating weekly advocacy and advice clinics for the refugees and their sponsors. Also, refugees started joining our English classes.
YMCA Setúbal – Portugal (António Malveiro)
Our news is about the project for young people that are looking for more than a refugee shelter.
Casa YMCA “YMCA Home”
The YMCA Setubal is building 4 of 9 apartments in the YMCA Community Center. These will be Autonomous Apartments in the City of Setúbal, to operate with the support of the Social Intervention Team – 4 apartments of the YMCA House will be delivered on June 6, 2022 to young people from Ukraine referred by the High Commission for Migration (ACM) but also by YMCA Europe in coordination with the YMCA in Ukraine.
The goal of this new social response is to temporarily host part of these young people and to integrate them culturally, academically, and professionally.
This is one of the innovations that reinforce the Purpose of the YMCA Setúbal, the value of this investment is around 60 000 euros and was unanimously approved by the Associates in General Assembly.
The launch had the logistical support of the Municipality of Setúbal and the Town Council of São Sebastião and the units will be delivered fully furnished and equipped. Their typology is T1 and have between 25 to 34 square meters.
This social response emerges after 4 years of incubation of the idea In the initial phase, we hope to welcome young people between 18 and 30 years old from Ukraine but it will be an open door to young people from all over the world. These apartments could become part of the network for hosting young refugees.
The creation of this YMCA House is perceived as a Unit of Inclusion, that is, people are encouraged to use Health and Wellness Programs, enroll their children in Day Care to Catl Programs, and use the youth programs ranging from Mentoring to Job Training.
Another major programmatic goal is to strengthen Transnationality by opening the doors of the World to the community and the city.
YMCA (CVJM) Wolfsburg – Germany (Manfred Wille)
Since the beginning of March we are working with newcomers from Ukraine. In Wolfsburg we have a lot of ethnic germans (Spätaussiedler) from the former Sovietunion. Because of this there are a lot of links to people from the former Sovietunion. A lot of this ethnic germans are able to speak the russian language.
The YMCA offers for youngsters three groups in volleyball in a „multi-kulti“ area of Wolfsburg as part of our neighborhood-related work. In all three groups there are newcomers from Ukraine and (Georgia).
In this „multi-kulti“ area we have also a neighborhood-related group with volleyball, football, basketball, table tennis, chess, just meeting, talking. A lot of newcomers are joining this group. This work is open to all ages, religious groups and sexes.
In another leisure volleyball group there are newcomers, too. This group is open to all ages, religious groups and sexes.
In the „world-wide-group“ of the CVJM newcomers are very welcome.
The YMCA offers also special events:
- Family afternoon in the sports hall for refugee families and locals.
- Volleyball tournaments
- Football tournaments
- Friendly matches
- Volleyball-Pausenliga (We play in school breaks)
- The sponsoring-tour by bicycles. The CVJM is collecting for the work of refugees in different regions of the world – for the work of the YMCA Europe, too. Ø The „symbolic wave for youngsters around the world“
In all this activities newcomers are also „givers“. In the Wolfsburg Y the newcomers can bring their gifts in the local work, and the local CVJM (YMCA) has created „a new culture of saying thank you“.
The CVJM Wolfsburg works in different networks for the newcomers on local and regional level and does a lot of public relations.
The work is possible because of volunteers, donors and subsidies from the LandesSportBund Niedersachsen (Integration through Sports) and the City of Wolfsburg (Jugendförderung).
Important for us is that all are welcome, newcomers and „oldcomers“ (locals), inclusive persons, young and old, boys and girls, people from Asia, from Arabia, from Africa, from America and now newcomers from the Ukraine. The CVJM Wolfsburg is a small YMCA with just a few volunteers, but the YMCA tries to do its best.
YMCA Thessaloniki – Greece (Dolores Tarrafeta)
Only a few updates this time:
- Continuation and monitoring of the information and awareness campaign. The campaign is still on the website together with the statement, and a "pop up" that appears as soon as you open the web.
- Collaboration with the Municipality of Thessaloniki, which is in contact with the Ukrainian consulate in Greece, in the campaign to collect sanitary and hygiene material for shipment to Ukraine. Collaboration with the Municipality and other actors is going on continiously.
- Two scholarships have already been awarded, one for a boy who has started in the YMCA Thessaloniki kindergarten, and another scholarship for his older brother who joined football classes. We have announced other scholarships that will be available to Ukrainian children to practice the activities offered by the YMCA Thessaloniki. Studying the possibility of sending children to the summercamps.
- PEACE – RECONCILIATION, preparations for this project in our Kindergarten that will be made public and sent to the European Parliament.
YMCA Finland (Milla Mäkinen)
- Local YMCAs have opened their services and programmes for Ukrainians and are preparing their facilities like camp sites for the accommodation if spaces are needed at some point. Among them, Helsinki YMCA has experience in providing recreational activities for reception centres.
- YMCA Finland organised a meeting with local YMCAs to share and discuss their thoughts on the matter and to encourage initiatives on refugee work.
- Helsinki YMCA is offering their recreational activities for Ukrainian children and youth for free at least until the end of year
YMCA Spain (Pedro Fueyo Diaz)
We have three main lines now:
- Refugees and Asylum seekers program.- we are advancing in the welcoming and integration program that we develop in two locations (Salamanca and Zaragoza). At the moment, we are hosting around 50 persons in this high impact program and that number might increase or decrease depending on the situation in Ukraine, as most of our initiatives regarding this issue.
- Foster family program.- we have a number of families (10) ready to host an Ukrainian family for six months at their home. We are waiting for placements from the ministry.
- Helping Ukrainian families through our "regular” programs. We have a significant number of individuals coming to different programs in all our centers, especially to Spanish classes, after school support or employment programs.
We all have the feeling that things have slowed down significantly and we are focusing in this new period of the helping initiative, that might also need a voluntary return assisted process.
YMCA the Netherlands (Jonathan van Varik).
Various local YMCAs set-up activities for local refugees. Although some find it difficult to connect to refugees in their own communities. An alternative is to support the refugee related work done by other organisations.
Local YMCAs in Scheveningen, Zuthpen, Heino and Wassenaar are implementing, or in the process of setting up refugee-related activities.
There is an incentive to organise parent-child holidays for refugees at one of the various YMCA accommodations in the Netherlands.
From April 30th to May 7th the international youth exchange Then Now Later took place in the Netherlands. The incentive for this project predated the COVID-19 pandemic, yet had its planning adapted to suit the current timeframe. A primal theme was discussing and thinking about conflict and peace, and the role participants could play in it. It was also sought to facilitate safe and non-pressing contact between Russians, Belarussians and Ukrainians in a hybrid setting.
One Ukrainian participant, herself a refugee having fled her home country only one month ago, shared the story of herself and of her country. Followingly, a brainstorm took place, placing the initiative to the participants and the YMCAs they represented. Participants were asked to discuss using three questions: what can we do?; what must we do?; what can I do? Answers to those questions include: don’t be silent; listen to individual stories; question news sources; raise money for donation; stay connected.
YWCA-YMCA Sweden (Martin Hedberg)
- According to migrations authorities 31 000 Ukrainian had sought protections in Sweden and 25 000 residence permits had been granted by April 13th. The inflow has gone down in the last weeks.
- YWCA-YMCA has participated in network meetings in the CSO-community and meetings with duty bearers on the reception of refugees from Ukraine. ? YWCA-YMCA Sweden are lobbying decisionmakers to increase and broaden the financing for CSOs working with Ukrainian refugees, especially focused on flexible support to the youth organisations and others who can offer safe spaces and activites for young refugees
- Apart for fundraising and advocacy to support the work of our local member organisations the national office of YWCA-YMCA of Sweden has redirected existing recourses to support local YWCA-YMCAs in Sweden who are working with Ukrainian refugees.
- YWCA-YMCA of Sweden held meetings and communicated with the national member organisations on inclusion of Ukrainian refugees in their activities.
- One local member organisation has opened up part of their camp sight for housing refugees and are currently hosting nine families.
- Several local member organisations are organising activates for young Ukrainian refugees and has opened their spaces and regular activities for Ukrainian refugees. Some locals are offering offer summer camps for Ukranian youth.
YMCA Malta (Anthony Camilleri)
- Official Development Assistance Fund (local national funding) has also been dedicated to the current crisis in Ukraine – there are no calls yet but YMCA Malta can partner up with YMCA Ukraine once the calls open so that a project investment from Malta can go to YMCA Ukraine and their needs at that point in time.
- YMCA Malta has carried out media awareness about the situation and will be carrying out a football tournament to raise funds .The money collected will be sent to YMCA Ukraine for their financial needs.
- We also partnered up with other local Civil Society Organisations and provided them with 40 boxes of clothes, linen and soft toys that were sent to Ukraine. ? YMCA Malta has already two shelters providing 48 beds per night to homeless people – 55% of the population we work with are always migrants and refugees. After the war emerged we initiated communication with the Government to be assisted in opening another shelter that will focus on a housing-first approach for the refugees & possible Ukraine migrants that will come to Malta.
- We set up a studio flat purposely for this cause and we have hosted already a 58- year-old Ukrainian grandmother and her 14-year old granddaughter. We assisted in providing them with the opportunity to learn English, provided them with a continuous supply of food, and helping also the grandmother to find employment. The young kid was also assisted to enter a private school for free. We also assisted their whole family (12 members in total) to be hosted by local families.
YMCA France (Alexandra Box).
In the YMCA France movement, 3 local associations have been running official support programs for refugees for many years. YMCA Le Rocheton, YMCA Villeurbanne (only young people) and UCRM. These programs are governed, granted by state and local regulations. The UCRM started receiving Ukrainian refugees.For the other two associations, this should happen very soon.
In general, it is the stalemate that is felt and now the impact of this war on daily life is concrete. Price increases, certain products becoming scarce…
As far as France is concerned, the attractiveness of a country depends on several factors, including whether or not a community already exists, and France was not a country with a large Ukrainian community. So we are not much affected at the moment. There are many appeals for donations launched by associations in France and our was unfortunately not a success. Lack of visibility of our brand and no relay, even internally in the YMCA movement.
YMCA Centre Azur hosts and supports a young Ukrainian woman. It was planned that she would do a voluntary civic service but for the moment this is not possible because we are waiting for a ministerial decree. In the meantime, YMCA Centre Azur has offered her a fixed term work contract. At the same time, she participates in intercultural youth projects: she took part in the youth exchanges to the Netherlands. She will perhaps organise a presentation on Ukraine for the public who comes to the Centre Azur.
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 28th. May to ed[at]ymcaeurope.com
New YMCA projects with/for refugees from Ukraine can be added to the YMCA Europe refugee projects database here.
The previous updates are available here.