Memo on youth centers in Ukraine and the Association of Youth Centers of Ukraine, state 5.03.2022
Ukrainian Youth Centers and Spaces are working and reorganizing they work according to new challenges. We have 48 members of Association and contacts with some new centers (non-members). The main activities of the centers, which we keep in contact are:
The Youth Center of Civic Education (meeting point and space for activities for membership-based youth organizations) is working on supporting self-defense of the capital and preparing shelter for the people from affected districts in the city and around the city.
Three years ago, a National Scouting Training Center was opened in Bucha near Kyiv, which is also the main point for residential training activities for the Association. Bucha is the city who is suffering a lot from street battels, some areas are occupied. The Center is not damaged but withing the military actions area now, the civilians have no humanitarian corridor. The staff and volunteers managed to escape, 8 volunteers from self-defense were shoot by trying to deliver food and water to the shelters. The single root for evacuation (railway) is destroyed.
Kharkiv is the biggest city in the East which was bombarded several times. The region has developed youth infrastructure. It’s only one region when we managed to create local branch of small youth hubs. There was also one youth center in the industrial suburban area, which is affected. Some staff managed to refuge. Two youth spaces are in surrounded rural area, we don’t have contacts with one, second one is where all the people are in shelter. Other youth hubs working for support army and self-defense units, managing evacuation and humanitarian aid.
Mariupol city is surrounded and expected to receive humanitarian corridor. Other spaces are working and supporting humanitarian measures.
Southern direction (Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv):
Our main communication point is Zaporizhzhia with the regional youth center. Other regions have rather weak youth infrastructure. The youth center has communication with small spaces in the region, also preparing activists for protests occupation. Some cities are surrounded, evacuation measures are organized ad preparade ad hoc, there are very few logistic mechanisms to evacuate the people from affected communities. Odessa region is affected from the sea side, some refugees going to Moldova and Romania.
Sumy city and smaller cities in the region are surrounded, there are battles within the cities. The regional youth center in Chernihiv (recently renovated) is destroyed by a missile. Staff evacuated, they didn’t received people realizing, that the location is not safe.
Central Ukraine is now transit area for military forces and refugees, the people communicate and support each other’s.
Western Ukrainian regions, which have direct border to EU (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) are transit area for refugees and humanitarian aid. Youth spaces act as shelters, volunteers’ points and ware houses. The biggest and the safest city in the West is Lviv.
Activities of the Association:
The members of Association coordinate in chat, raising needs and requests, also informing each other on what is going on (e.g. find accommodations, managing evacuation, exchange of information). We work on ad hoc needs, mid-term and long-term perspective.
- Many of youth leaders and activists are in self-defense acting for protection of civilians. We collect needs and try to supply them with necessary equipment. Regarding civilian needs the short-distance communication means (like walkie-talkie) are in demand. Starlink is working only for the army. There were already breakdowns on communication in Kherson and Mariupol.
- Humanitarian aid: most humanitarian needs can be secured, the main problem is logistic, because some areas are cut, and Russians don’t give opportunities for delivery. Now there is agreement on evacuation of civilians only in Mariupol. We got special requests, e.g. specific children nutritions, which can be delivered by Danone.
- For such kind of fundraising and delivery we work with Solidarity Fund PL and Ukrainian Emergency Service. They got agreed logistic means and can manage to buy items, which are not available in Ukraine. It’s worth to now, that regarding the legal regulation for the war, there no possibilities to transfer money from Ukraine abroad. So, we organized fundraising directly in EU.
We managed to fundraise for pilot stage for the shelter project for youth activists and youth workers. The shelter is located on Lviv city, based on YMCA-Lviv youth space. 6 young people already stay there and act as volunteer team. We plan to adopt the location for receiving up to 40 people during next 3 month for short stay (1-4 weeks) to secure safe location, psychological and medical support, environment to prevent mental health problems and burning out and to plan future activities reflecting new realities, including improving competencies in providing physician and mental security for young people, managing humanitarian needs, building volunteers teams etc. In our focus are young people who experienced military attacks more then 2 times in their life (since 2014); activists acting now as coordinators of humanitarian actions and self-defense units and youth workers from youth centers. After finishing pilot stage, we will agree how to multiply the experience. On this stage we’re looking for founds for space equipment, team support and services, elaborating ideas for further support for shelter beneficiaries (e.g. youth exchanges with EU countries, job shadowing, mentoring, capacity building).
- Renovation of destroyed youth centers.
- Enhancing youth workers’ competencies and capability to respond to the new realities.