Throughout October and November, the editorial staff of the newspaper “Khotynsky Visti” implemented the project “Be Aware! Know. Use. Adapt.” It was a challenge for us, during a difficult time for everyone, to transition from merely informing about problems to actively taking actions to solve them. However, the project provided us with the impetus to evolve into an effective communication tool within the Khotyn community, and, most importantly, to offer comprehensive information assistance to new residents, internally displaced persons. Looking ahead, I would like to note that we addressed five issues relevant to most IDPs and resolved five individual problems for people.

I admit that we didn’t pay enough attention to this category of residents before, because we focused on our subscribers, and these are mostly local residents. But, realizing that the problem of social adaptation of thousands of displaced persons is very painful and relevant for our community, we decided to help solve it.

It is worth noting that, following the full-scale invasion, the Khotyn community welcomed nearly 8 thousand displaced persons who sought refuge from shelling, prioritizing the safety of themselves and their children while searching for a secure place for their families. Some of them went abroad, while others later, after the de-occupation of their cities and villages, went to their native lands. And about two thousand remained in the Khotyn community. Their lives were drastically altered by the war; many of them lost everything, departing hastily, trembling from explosions, and finding themselves without a roof over their heads. They have nowhere to go back, they start their lives from scratch.

Internally displaced persons in a new location often encounter a lack of information regarding available services, including medical, social, psychological, etc., and where exactly they can access them or apply for assistance. Unfortunately, we can’t provide them with housing or jobs. But we can give significant information support, contacts and consultations. This is exactly what we set out to do when implementing such a project. To maximize efficiency, we sought support and invited the Khotyn City Council Development Agency to collaborate on the implementation of the project.

To learn more about the needs of internally displaced persons living in the Khotyn community, we conducted a survey. As a result, we identified the most significant problems that IDPs face en masse. Among them are challenges related to employment, inadequate information on accessing medical services, bureaucratic hurdles, the necessity for social or psychological support, and the need for material assistance.

At the same time, many residents of the Khotyn region, especially older individuals who do not use social media and thus find themselves in an information vacuum, also encounter the issue of a lack of local information and news. Therefore, we sought to improve the comprehensive awareness of all residents, establish communication between them and the authorities, service providers, organizations and institutions.

So, we provided comprehensive information support to internally displaced persons and local residents of the community, and became an information bridge for them.

Here is what we managed to do:

♦ conducted informational discussions with experts, during which we collectively addressed issues and explored potential solutions. Each participant had the opportunity to receive immediate answers to their specific concerns,

♦ based on the results of such meetings, we prepared articles with a clear algorithm of actions and step-by-step instructions on how to act to get certain services, get a job, or start a private business,

♦ submitted requests to various services on issues of concern to residents,

♦ provided individual consultations and necessary contacts to internally displaced persons,

♦ helped project participants apply for financial or other assistance based on their requests,

♦ prepared an informational special issue about the Khotyn community, its life, and socially significant initiatives for displaced persons and residents of the community,

♦ distributed newspapers newspapers with a series of informational articles among IDPs for free,

♦ told two success stories, about how the displaced people managed to restore their business in a new place, and how they can get a grant for business development.

By the way, it was these stories that most impressed both us and our readers. These are stories about how internally displaced persons who left everything and had to flee the war did not give up and were able to resume their business in a new place.

Stories about the Zhuravliov family from Kramatorsk and Tetiana Kovpak from Irpin garnered the most interest among fellow countrymen, accumulating more than 22,000 and 15,000 views on social media, respectively. As a result, thousands of people became aware of their stories, new customers emerged, and Anastasiia Zhuravliova, the creator of educational toys for children, was even invited to participate in a foreign craft fair in Luxembourg following our publication.

As a result of the project, we achieved concrete practical results: we successfully addressed 10 issues, encompassing both socially significant challenges for most residents of the community and personal ones. The displaced members of the community were primarily concerned about five issues: unemployment, a lack of information regarding access to free medical services, the necessity of receiving social services, initiating their own businesses and obtaining grants for small enterprises, and the requirement for free psychological support. We also assisted in resolving five personal problems for families, including document processing, enrolling a child in school, acquiring winter clothes, securing firewood for heating, and providing other financial assistance.
It is heartening that we have received a lot of appreciative feedback from participants in the meetings and readers of Khotynski Visti. They thanked us for support, for being given the opportunity to be heard and become a part of the community’s life.

I would like to highlight our cooperation with the shelter of St. Olha from the NGO “Eleos Khotiyn,” where migrants live, in particular (by the way, during the project, a cooperation agreement was signed with this public organization). They took an active part in our information events and received assistance in all the questions they applied for.

According to shelter residents, every page of the “Khotynski Visti” newspaper has long been a gateway to the world of events, aiding them in seamlessly integrating into the local community. And thanks to the project “Be Aware! Know. Use. Adapt” they had the opportunity to systematically receive new issues of the newspaper and attend various informational events. This enabled them to learn not only about the city’s news but also about cultural events, charitable activities, and opportunities for their personal development.

Khotynski Visti has become more than just a source of information for them; it has also become a tool for active participation in the life of the city. Women admit that Khotyn has become a second home for them, and they look forward to every issue of our newspaper.

Therefore, the most significant outcome of the project is that we were able to offer substantial information support and provide the opportunity for many people who found themselves in a difficult situation due to the war to be heard. We sincerely thank the Ukrainian Media Business Association and the project donors for this!

AUTHOR: Tetiana Koval, Editor of the newspaper “Khotynski Visti.”

This publication was created with the support of the European Union. The content is the sole responsibility of the Ukrainian Media Business Association and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union, whose financial support made the project possible.