Together we can help children cope with the trauma and loss of war

Apart of Me, in collaboration with the Amna (formerly Refugee Trauma Initiative), Compass Pathways, and Beetroot, is building A Safer Place - an online sanctuary where parents and carers of Ukrainian children can find well designed, easy to use resources to help them guide their children through this crisis and minimise any long-term psychological harm.

There are over 7.5 million children in Ukraine experiencing levels of violence and terror that no child should ever have to endure. Many have been forced to flee their homes and communities and torn from their families and friends - loved ones they may never see again.

Your donation can help us provide vital psychological support to the children of Ukraine.

Whilst most focus has been rightly placed on getting these children to a safe location, we must not forget to protect the mental health of Ukraine's children, before it's too late.

Without the right support, children in conflict areas experience high rates of mental disorders, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, self harm and suicide. And sadly, such acute mental health problems are likely to persist into adulthood even after the violence has stopped.

What Can We Do?

Research from previous conflicts has shown that the most effective psychological interventions are those that strengthen the relationships between parents or carers and their children.

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A Safer Place, our online sanctuary, will provide parents and carers (and the professionals that support them) with simple, evidence-based tools that will be really easy for them to use. We will help them nurture their children's resilience through this challenging time. For example, we will provide simple therapeutic games that children and parents can play together. Play helps to regulate the nervous system of both parents and children, helping them to find some calm and inner strength in the middle of the storm.

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A Safer Place will also share answers to some of the most common questions parents and professionals have during these times. The Apart of Me team have already been fielding questions such as: 'How do I help my child deal with intense feelings of guilt, because they left their brother behind to fight in the war?' 'How do I talk to my child about why their father died?' We are already working with an international team of leading experts in the fields of childhood loss and trauma and war, the experienced team from charity Amna, formerly’ Refugee Trauma Initiative’, and we will pull together the best advice available in a well-designed, easy-to digest format in our A Safer Place online sanctuary.

This resource will support Ukrainian families and become a vital resource to support displaced families and communities around the world who are living with violence and fleeing war and conflict.

If we reach our fundraising goal, our interactive, therapeutic game supporting children who have experienced loss and bereavement, will be updated and translated into Ukrainian and other languages applicable to refugee children.

The Background

The seeds of this project were sown a year ago when Larisa Rybyk, President of the Ukraine Psychology Association, contacted Apart of Me co-founder Louis Weinstock after she came across his work on childhood loss. Larisa lost her husband during the fighting in Ukraine in 2014. This prompted her interest in helping children cope with bereavement and as a result she set up a centre in Ukraine to support children and their carers affected by this issue.

Now, Larisa has been streaming on Facebook and Youtube every day trying to offer psychological advice to parents, carers and other mental health professionals. She has told us that the burden that she and other mental health professionals in Ukraine are carrying is devastating and the need is overwhelming.

She is asking us for our help.

Larisa with her children.

Larisa giving her daily psychological support broadcast to Ukrainians.

"The Need"

Primary School teacher, Poland:
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"Because of this war in Ukraine, more and more children with trauma are joining our schools and preschools. Some children have PTSD and hide under the table whenever they hear loud voices."

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Ula, Child Psychologist, Poland:
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"I feel very overwhelmed with everything that is happening. NGO's I'm working with are trying to prepare some procedures but we're all learning on the go. And to be honest there so much to be done it's almost paralyzing."

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Oksana, mother, and her some Roman (aged 6):
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"We just came from Ivano-Frankivsk where the airport was bombed. Roman [6 year old] is scared of windows now. He's even scared to go to the bathroom because he knows there's a window in there. Roman was crying all the time asking 'why can't dad come with us?'. He was crying so much yesterday and he didn't even realise it was the last time we might see him."

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Natalia, Psychologist, Poland:
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"These little children are heroes, they want to be saved, that's all. They are witnesses, they are not guilty and it's unfair. They are innocent. We need to educate people how to deal with trauma, make them aware of their emotions and help them cope with emotions and build resources. We need to create a guide for parents on how to protect their children and what disturbing signs to look for."

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We Need Your Help Now

Your help will give us the opportunity to reach many thousands of children who have suffered devastating loss and trauma. Your generosity will enable us to build easily accessible psychological support tools for them and their families so they know they are not alone in this crisis.

We are also looking for Ukrainian translators, Ukrainian parents and carers who can help us design the product and marketing support, to help us get this product into the hands of those who need it.

If you think you can help with the above or in other ways, please get in touch with ada@apartofme.app.

For other volunteering opportunities see our vacancies page.

About Apart of Me

Apart of Me is partnering with Amna (formerly Refugee Trauma Initiative), experts in providing non-clinical mental health support, tailored to the needs of displaced people and host communities) and Beetroot, a software development company that was formerly based in the Ukraine and works with Ukrainian developers.

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