22 Feb
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The assessment of ROMED1 and ROMED2 is very positive for Chiricli. Why? Here is a detailed explanation on the improvements on Roma situation in Ukraine due to those programmes:

ROMED1 was an innovative Programme from the Council of Europe and the European Union with a special curriculum to fit best European practice of mediation. Within this programme, 54 mediators were trained in 2011-2013. They represent a wide geographic scope of localities, including Zakarpattia, Kirovograd, Zhytomyr, Kharkiv and Lviv oblasts.

The mediators represent a successful initiative as they help reducing the gap between the State and Roma community. Roma issues are diverse across Ukraine and mediators - often linked with Roma NGOs - can help communicate needs and problems, which is important for policy-making. At the national level, mediators are also helping to bring best European practices of gender inclusion into the Roma strategy. Local authorities perceive mediators as individuals who, first of all, are backed by the trust of Roma communities. They are indispensable in navigating both the hierarchy and the close-knit family relations in the Roma community.

During the six months from October 2015 to March 2016, Chiricli reports that the network of 40 mediators covered 34,683 Roma representatives, which includes 7,144 families, of which 11,125 are women, 7,890 men and 15,668 children. Each month, mediators provide services to around 200 to 300 Roma IDPs. The most popular services include:

-          Assistance with applications for identification documents;

-          Residence registration;

-          Court appeals;

-          Access to local state financial subsistence and services (utility subsidies, pensions, disability payment);

-          Information about social protection and basic rights;

-          Assistance with social housing and employment;

-          Educational support to improve school attendance;

-          Medical assistance with access to diagnosis and access to hospitals

Active advocacy work of Chiricli led to the creation of the Inter-Agency Group for the implementation of the Roma strategy in 2015.

The most positive development in terms of national impact is the agreement of the State Dragomanov University (Institute of Social Work) and the Association of Social Workers to launch a new course on “Mediation as a form of social work with the Roma minority”, starting from September 2016 for Roma mediators.

All stakeholders also assessed ROMED2 positively. Its value comes from the need to engage local authorities in Roma inclusion, as they are the key to creating sustainable structural changes for improving the status of Roma in their respective communities. ROMED2 opens a pathway for constructive inclusive cooperation between mediators, community and local authorities to improve access to services and address key problems.

Another key added value of ROMED2 is the mobilisation of citizens into Community Action Groups (CAGs). The cooperation between the mediators, CAG and NFP/NPO was very effective. The ROMED2 approach puts Roma communities at the centre of it. It gives Roma a voice, starting with dialogue from inside the community about what their needs are. It helps deliver services, as well as institutionalise cooperation with the state. For example, Roma mediators were included in the Municipal Civil Society Councils in Kirovograd, Uzhgorod, Beregovo, Kyiv and Odessa. The work of the CAG clearly improves the self-esteem and trust of the communities. Roma communities are proud to showcase their culture during International Roma Day or be part of helping other marginalised Roma, in particularly those living in settlements.

In an effort to facilitate cooperation, 147 social workers were trained by the state Institute of Family and Youth Policy. Also, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, 34 newly-recruited police officers participated in the training on non-discrimination toward Roma. Representatives of ROMED2 participating municipalities from Kyiv, Kirovograd, Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky, Berehovo and Cherkasy attended the training. It allowed Chiricli and its mediators to establish good working relations with the newly-recruited police officers.

At national level, ROMED2 helped to promote the establishment of the National Inter-Agency Working Group for Roma and contributed to the development of the Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy.

The Programme also helped raising awareness on Roma issues and on national media during International Roma Day. Most importantly, ROMED2, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Policy, contributed to the development of national standards on mediation.

To address youth issues, a national seminar on Roma youth was organised between ROMED and the Youth Department of the Council of Europe. Participants discussed the national strategy on activism for young people with the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sport. This strategy includes a training course for Roma youth NGOs and activists and an international training course for Roma youth organisations, to be held in Kharkiv. The event will be co-organised by ROMED and the Youth Department of the Council of Europe in autumn 2016.

At local level, the Programme contributed to the development of Action Plans to implement the strategy. As a result, two municipalities, Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky and Zakarpattia, have included in the local budget funding for Roma inclusion.

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