Psychosocial Support Project in Partnership with UNICEF Romania

Delivering first aid psychosocial support to 10,000 Ukrainian children

The uprooting of families following the Russian invasion of Ukraine has left children at risk of deteriorating mental health. As families seek refuge in neighbouring Romania and elsewhere, the sudden change in children’s circumstances and the disruption of their lives are affecting their emotional well-being.

Frustration, helplessness, loss of control, anxiety, anger and feeling detached are all symptoms manifested under conditions of stress. Seeing family members upset or worried can also affect children’s mental health.

To address this, Good Neighbours UK and UNICEF Romania have joined forces to deliver vital psychosocial support first aid interventions to over 12,000 children at key Romanian border points where most Ukrainian refugee families are arriving in search of safety.

UNICEF has recognised Good Neighbours’ decades long expertise in child protection with a particular focus on delivering psychosocial support to children and their carers in humanitarian situations.

In our podcast, we speak to Kirsten Antoncich, our UKCP Consultant child psychotherapist who went to Romania to help expand our PSS programme and work with local professional specialised in child protection and support.

GNUK - UNICEF Psychosocial Support Partnership

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What is Psychosocial Support?

Psychosocial support is delivered through a series of child and family-friendly activities which act as a first aid relief method to alleviate or minimise the negative psychological and social impacts of humanitarian disaster victims.

Through the provision of psychosocial support, children who are at risk of deteriorating mental health due to the disruption of their routine as a result of recent traumatic events, can find respite in the safe space offered at Blue Dot Centres.

These are situated at key border points in Romania as first point of PSS assistance for Ukrainian families and their children fleeing their homes in search of safety.

How does GNUK and UNICEF Romania deliver psychosocial support?

The Good Mind Kit

Ukrainian children and their carers are provided with psychosocial support kits on arrival at Romanian crossing points where GNUK and UNICEF Romania are currently caring out their emergency relief programme.

While our highly trained staff and volunteers are assisting children and their carers with using the PSS workbook, the guides are designed to be user-friendly.

This means that in instances where Ukrainian families continue their journey to safety, the instructions in the workbook empower the carer and their child to guide themselves in using it adequately as a first step into helping them cope with their recent experiences.

Where are the psychosocial support activities carried out?

Our partnership with UNICEF Romania has been crucial to expanding our psychosocial support delivery at Blue Dot Centres.

The Blue Dot Centres offer a temporary safe haven for children and their carers where our highly GN trained local staff and volunteers are available to provide immediate assistance to newly arrived Ukrainian families.

The centres offer a calm and secure space where children can explore the PSS workbook and find respite from their traumatic journey.

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