YMCA Europe Roots for Peace had an honor to be present at the YMCA Work with Refugees working conference, organized by the YMCA Europe working group on Refugees, on 9-12 February 2023. 37 practitioners from Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Northern Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine came together to learn and share about refugee work and create connections in Gdynia, Poland.
During the conference, six parallel workshops offered participants a chance to enrich their knowledge and skills in refugee work, as it is crucial now more than ever. The sessions included: Working with children, Education, Employment, Conflict Resolution, Housing, and Mental Health. Sessions were led by practitioners from YMCAs from all corners of Europe. Facilitators shared highly relevant information based on their experience. Every workshop was balanced with valuable information and practical exercises.
Participants had a discussion on most prominent issues in their refugee works areas and exchanged ideas on how to address them. It is important to highlight that all the YMCAs present at the conference had an experience in working with refugees from different countries. Some YMCAs had been working on refugee projects for decades, while the others were relatively new in the field; however, the differences in participants’ approaches and methods to address various issues created a great atmosphere for discussions, introducing new perspectives and adopting the best practices from old experiences.
As mentioned above, YMCA Europe Roots for Peace also had the opportunity to attend the conference and to present best practices for Mental Health for refugees. The workshop was based on experience gained while working on Heal the Smile project. Based on the feedback, the work done by Roots was highly relevant and the shared know-how was helpful. In addition to that, several YMCAs expressed their interest in the project and offered a partnership in case further collaboration is needed.
Apart from the workshops, participants had a chance to visit FLY Foundation in Gdynia and learn more about the YMCA Europe mission in Poland and all the outstanding work they have accomplished with great dedication to the cause.
YMCA Europe Roots for Peace and Refugee Work
Shortly after the war broke out in Ukraine, YMCA Europe Roots for Peace initiated a mental health support campaign which provided professional psychological help for more than a dozen of Ukrainians. The project was one of the first international Refugee Mental Health projects implemented within the YMCA.
It is important to highlight that Roots’ peacework initiatives include not only mental health support programs, but also various projects and campaigns for refugees from Ukrainian, Syria and IDPs from Artsakh on daily bases. Learn more about Rootsmade and summer camps for peace; highly successful projects facilitating integration and trauma recovery processes for those in need.
We would like to express our gratitude to the conference organizers for the opportunity and to the facilitators for sharing their knowledge with us. We wish productive work and good luck to each participant in their exceptional work.