The war brought grief to every Ukrainian family. During this time, more than 12 million people were forced to leave their homes and seek safe housing in other regions of the country or beyond.
Meanwhile, UNICEF reports that almost two-thirds of children in Ukraine are internally displaced persons or have left the borders of Ukraine, hiding from the war.
All this affected the deterioration of the emotional state of people, increased the level of tension, stress and aggression, which in turn led to the destruction of relationships within families and sharply increased the number of family disputes and conflicts.
With the international support and assistance of the NGO "League of Mediators of Ukraine", the unique in Ukraine PROJECT "Family Mediation in the Time of War" was organized.
The project was launched in July 2022.
The duration of the project is 1 year.
The main goal of the Project is to provide an online cross-border family mediation service for Ukrainian families whose members were forced to leave the country due to hostilities.
Ukrainian family mediators - volunteers take all possible measures in order to assist parents in cross-border family disputes that affect the interests of children, in the search for a peaceful, mutually acceptable way out of the conflict.
Who is involved in the project?
- 50 Ukrainian volunteer mediators with many years of practical experience conduct online mediation for all Ukrainians who seek help in conflict resolution,
- international experts from Israel, the USA and Europe, who share with Ukrainian mediators their practical experience in working with crisis mediation and the peculiarities of working with cross-border family disputes,
- international and Ukrainian supervisors who help and support family mediators in practice.
Who can ask for help?
- every Ukrainian who suffered from the war,
- every Ukrainian who was displaced or was forced to leave Ukraine due to the war.
How to get help with a mediation request?
Fill in the google - form: https://forms.gle/qe6fRufFB7HMvdWF8
Report on the project "Family Mediation in the Time of War" of the NGO "League of Mediators of Ukraine "
for the period from July 01, 2022 to February 01, 2023.
There are 50 family mediators, 4 supervisors, and 5 psychotherapists working in the project.
During the seven months of work, the following trainings were held:
1. Training program «Crisis Mediation» by colleagues from Israel (Idith Schaham, Gustavo Fleischmann, Ziv Kamini). Ten 3-hours sessions were held (5 sessions for each of two groups).
2. Workshop "Trauma Informed Care" by Lupe Staigers (USA). Two 3-hours sessions were held.
3. Workshop for practice with high emotions in mediation with Stephen Kotev (USA). Three 3-hours sessions were held.
4. Workshop "Self-reflection and Stress Management in Mediation" (Gary Friedman and Norman Fisher, USA ), 4 hours.
5. Certification training program "Child Inclusive Family Mediation" (Lisa Parkinson, UK), four 4-hours sessions.
Supervision and psychological support for mediators:
1. 6 group supervisions were conducted by an international expert Lisa Parkinson (each meeting of 1.5 hours);
2. 35 group supervisions were conducted by Ukrainian specialists (each meeting of 1.5 hours);
3. 45 psychological support groups were conducted by Ukrainian specialists (each meeting of 2 hours).
Number of family mediations carried out:
1. 166 cases (624 meetings with families, 522 Ukrainians received assistance in 7 months of work)
2. 101 cases of them with indirect or direct involvement of children (125 children)
The main requests for family mediation:
- Divorce conflicts (establishing relationship, parenting, child support payments, determining the child's place of residence)
- Division of property between relatives
- Intergenerational conflicts (between parents and children)
- Neighbor disputes between families of IDPs
The main channels to apply for mediation:
- Social services (Centers for Social Services for Families Children and Youth, Children’s Social Services, Social Service Centers)
- Free legal assistance
- Private practice of family mediators
The main problems in the work of the project:
1. Due to danger, lack of possibility to work offline and the specifics of cases, 95% of the work is done online, but there are constant interruptions with the Internet and electricity supply throughout the country, so meetings are constantly interrupted and postponed, which slows down work opportunity of both mediators and parties to the conflict.
2. The main case providers are now state institutions, but also in the context of the war, many social service centers work with limited working hours due to insufficient staff and other problems of war conditions.
3. The main request for family mediation is related to divorce conflicts due to separation of families and evacuation of mothers with children abroad. In this regard, there are issues about the expertise of family mediators’ in work with cross-border cases (in Ukraine, only 3 family mediators have MiKK accreditation for working with such conflicts, and one of these mediators works in the project). It is necessary to train family mediators of the project on working with cross-border cases. There is also a problem of working with cross-border cases at the legislative level, due to the fact that during the war women have the right to leave the country with their children without consent of their husbands (who are not allowed to leave the country without special permission), and this further leads to family conflicts.
UNICEF reports that nearly two-thirds of children in Ukraine are internally displaced persons or have left the borders of Ukraine to escape the war.
4. Due to stress and trauma of the Ukrainian population cause of occupation, evacuation, loss of housing, job, shelling and other factors, the emotional state of the parties to the conflict is very unstable and requires additional attention and efforts in the work of family mediators. This leads to professional burnout of family mediators. In addition, 32 out of 50 mediators of the project live and work in Ukraine that has an additional stressful effect on their psychological and emotional state. All cases within the project are provided free of charge to Ukrainian families affected by the war, therefore, this work is fully performed on the own resources of family mediators who do not receive any payment for their work. To support and restore mediators, it is important to conduct a retreat for them.