Helping Ukrainian families affected by the war

Lots of families in Ukraine are tired and traumatised. Svetlana is one of many remarkable women helped by the Resilient Families programme to get their lives back on track.
Two young children on tyre swing
Witnessing the bombing had ruined their souls (Anatoliy Sapsay, Innovista's National Director for Ukraine)

When Svetlana* was told about the Resilient Families mentoring programme she welled up with emotion, as she desperately needed someone to talk to about her sadness and anxiety. She is one of many remarkable Ukrainian women who are single-handedly navigating the considerable challenges of becoming refugees, providing for their children, being away from husbands, and coping with the stress from both their current situation and what they have been through. Her traumatic evacuation from Kharkiv (under fire) had taken its toll, not least on her 8-year-old son who was so fearful that he would not leave her side, even for a short period. Having felt very much ‘on the edge’, the support given by Resilient Families helped the family gradually increase their capacity to cope.

Trained mentors are playing a critical role in supporting women through the Resilient Families Programme.

After a number of sessions with the mentor, Oksana, her son felt safer and more relaxed, while Svetlana was able to go running again, which she had wanted to do for a long time. Feeling more like herself again, she was not only less anxious, but felt joy returning to her life.

Helping leaders serve

While some need more specialist mental health support, Svetlana is among the great number of Ukrainians who can benefit from this type of help. That is why Innovista developed Resilient Families in Ukrainian, in response to requests from local leaders. Designed by the children’s charity, Viva, it enables trained church volunteers to mentor parents and carers, as they work through seven key themes, including mental health, staying safe together, and thinking about grief and loss, with their children.

Greater resilience

Nearly 40 mentors have conducted in excess of 600 sessions so far, which has helped more than 300 individuals. Although some have been initially hesitant about the suggestion they might want support, the results have been very positive. After completing the course, parents reported that they felt better at communicating with their families, dealing with stress, keeping safe, and supporting the emotional wellbeing of their children. Importantly, they also developed a greater sense of hope.

Increasing impact

Innovista is exploring ways of expanding Resilient Families further, including to refugees in the United Kingdom and other countries. It is being distributed through a partnership with Realis, as well as being promoted at events like Kyiv’s Global Leadership Summit.

Hopeful future

Stories like that of Svetlana and others on the programme remind us of the immense need that still remains, as Christian leaders seek to transform their communities for the better. It is a great privilege for Innovista to play a part in helping families not only develop greater resilience to face the challenges ahead, but also to recover a sense of joy. And because the mentors are part of local churches, there are lots of opportunities for families to connect with the wider support that they offer.

* Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
(Photo by Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash)

About Innovista

Supporting leaders where they're needed most.

Innovista identifies, equips and develops Christian leaders working in challenging locations. Every year, we train and mentor around 1,500 leaders in Britain, Ireland, Moldova, Ukraine, Central Asia and beyond. We help leaders transform people and communities through churches, ministries and enterprises. Inspired by Jesus, we equip leaders to build a better world.