The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF with the European Union’s support presented the UPSHIFT Ukraine programme to develop professional skills of disadvantaged adolescents and youth in Kharkiv on August 9.
The programme will help to improve the employment prospects of vulnerable young people affected by the conflict in the east of Ukraine and assist social businesses in solving social and environmental issues in their communities.
The one-year national project will be launched first in Kharkiv. Then, UPSHIFT Ukraine will expand to other regions of the country. It is being implemented by the Professional Development of Kharkiv non-governmental organization within UNICEF’s “Strengthening the resilience and civic engagement of adolescent and youth in conflict-affected eastern Ukraine” programme funded by the EU.
“The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine affects the lives and opportunities of young people. The aim of our joint programme with UNICEF is to mitigate the severe impact this conflict has on young people, increase their capacities to cope with conflict and encourage visionary ways to build new future in eastern Ukraine. We are proud to support UPSHIFT in Ukraine and we believe that Kharkiv could become one of the centers of youth innovative projects in Ukraine,” Thomas Frellesen, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, noted.
Commenting on the UPSHIFT launch in Kharkiv, Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, said, “Ukrainian youth are facing many challenges these days. It is essential to provide opportunities for young people that will help them to become agents for social change. UPSHIFT has proven its efficiency in other countries. We strongly believe that the Ukrainian chapter of UPSHIFT will facilitate projects that will fully reveal young people’s power and potential.”
The programme combines social innovation workshops with mentorship, materials and seed funding to equip young people with the skills and resources they need to identify problems and challenges in their communities and find solutions to these problems. The young people build skills and resilience as their communities benefit from the solutions they create.
The programme includes several stages. International experts have visited Kharkiv this week to share their expertise with local trainers on how to teach adolescents and youth about the basics of social entrepreneurship. Local trainers will mentor the winning teams of young people picked out by an independent selection committee. Each team will also receive up to 60,000 UAH for implementation of their projects. Before being implemented, the innovative projects go through three months of an “incubation” period, when mentors and professionals help the participants to improve their project designs and test their ideas.
Iryna Fomenko, Head of the Professional Development of Kharkiv organization, stated, “UPSHIFT Ukraine will highlight not only that young people want to and can change their own social standing, but also that they are capable of changing the world around them. Luckily, today, young people can receive support from recognized professionals and the financial means to make their social entrepreneur projects come to fruition.”
Since 2014, the UPSHIFT programme has achieved impressive results in Kosovo and Vietnam.
Sources: EU Delegation to Ukraine, Professional Development of Kharkiv NGO, ReliefWeb
Photo: Professional Development of Kharkiv NGO