The invasion of Ukraine has taken lives and livelihoods away, uprooting countless families and displacing their sense of belonging, of safety and of self. It has been over 100 days since Russian forces first stepped foot on Ukrainian soil, pushing many locals from cities and the countryside alike, to leave their homes behind. Some may return to rebuild their former homes and some may not, finding safety and a new life in neighbouring countries and further afield.
However, there is no denying that the sudden uprooting of entire families has left people and especially children subject to long-term stress and at risk of deteriorating mental health under the sudden change in their circumstances and the disruption of their routine. Feelings such as frustration, helplessness, loss of control, anxiety, anger, and feeling detached, are all symptoms manifested under conditions of stress. Seeing family members upset or worried may also further affect children’s mental health and emotional well-being.
To address these challenges, Good Neighbours UK (GNUK) has partnered with UNICEF to embed and expand their psychosocial support programme at Blue Dot Centres set up at key Romanian border points where Ukrainian children and their families are most likely to require the first aid intervention. UNICEF has recognised Good Neighbours’ decades-long expertise in child protection and delivering psychosocial support to children and their carers in times of need.
Psychosocial support refer to a series of activities which act as a first aid relief method to alleviate or minimise the negative psychological and social impact of humanitarian disaster victims. Through the provision of psychosocial support affected families can begin to process their lived experiences and develop coping mechanism in their everyday life.
GNUK’s integrated program for psychological and social support is being carried out at UNICEF Blue Dot centres situated at the Romanian border. The Blue Dots Centres offer a temporary safe haven for children and their carers where trained local volunteers are available to assist newly arrived Ukrainian families who will continue their transit to other countries via Romania as well as carers and their children who are choosing to settle in Romania or return to Ukraine.
Thanks to the collaborative partnership with UNICEF, Good Neigbours UK has been able to expand their psychosocial support programme in Romania to approximately 4000 children. The children and their carers are provided with psychosocial support kits. These are guides designed to be user-friendly and to assist children and their carers to begin to process their recent experiences and develop ways to unpack them in a safe space such as the Blue Dot centres where professional staff and volunteers can help families understand how to use the kits effectively. The kits are designed in a manner that enables the carer and their child to guide themselves in using it adequately, in instances where children and their carers continue on with their journey once they’ve crossed into neighbouring Romania. The large scale psychosocial assistance enabled by the GNUK-UNICEF partnership will continue into the future, helping children and their families when and as needed. If you wish to support our Ukrainian refugee efforts on the ground in Romania, please donate today.