A month later: YMCA charts next steps to support Ukraine

Date: 31 March 2022

With up to 750,000 euro already raised from a target of 2 million, initial YMCA support has been given to some 15,000 people in Ukraine (where 17 YMCAs out of 25 in Ukraine are still functional and serving their communities) and to an estimated 40,000 new Ukrainian refugees arriving in Romania, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Belgium and Spain.

“It has been an exceptional period of Movement-wide solidarity, compassion, and active collaboration”, said Juan Simoes, Secretary-General of YMCA Europe, at a global planning meeting in Geneva on 28 March. He went on to present the outline details of an intended second round of support, in three broad areas.


First, offering free psychological First Aid for traumatised young Ukrainians. The ‘Heal the Smile’ project is already launched, and is creating a register of professional counsellors in Ukraine and surrounding countries. The register will ultimately be matched to a register of those who need counselling.

Second, continued programmes of sports and games, arts and crafts for young people who remain in Ukraine and for young people who have fled to neighbouring countries.  These activities will take place within existing YMCA structures and new ones: for instance in Bratislava (Slovakia), Warsaw (Poland), and Baia Mare (Romania, which is already in discussion with neighbouring Cavnic in Romania and YMCAs Carpathy and Uzhhorrod just over the border in Ukraine). The activities for young people will also be accompanied by help given to those registering as refugees, and to those who are forced to learning new local languages.

Third, continued training for young people in dealing with conflict, and learning conflict resolution skills, as a continuation of YMCA Europe’s Roots for Peace Programme.  ‘Roots’ has already run for 15 years, running 53 projects in 12 countries, involving well over 2000 young people for a total of 40 countries. Further rounds of the programme will ensure continued Ukrainian participation, as well as for Russians within the Russian Federation and in countries like Armenia and Georgia.

Among larger Movements to pledge their support for this second phase of the programme were Y USA, Y Care International and Y Global (YMCA Norway).

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