In this article, we will discuss important details and management findings discovered during the operation of the information hub created for internally displaced persons now residing in the Rivne community. We are confident that our experience will be valuable for readers of Redaktorskyi Portal because in a new environment, people often lack information and communication to facilitate a faster integration into the community.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, almost 86 thousand people have moved to the Rivne region, fleeing the war. Well over 52 thousand of them stayed here to live. One of the most pressing issues faced by displaced persons who have found shelter in Rivne is the lack of information about the opportunities for integration in their new environment and the assurance of their guaranteed rights. At least this is evidenced by the results of a study conducted by the Civil Network OPORA. Most displaced persons do not know who and for what help they can turn to. Therefore, our editorial staff has taken on this task, at least to the extent that we can. We are delighted to have surpassed even our own expectations with the successful implementation of the project “Media Space for IDPs,” supported by the Ukrainian Media Business Association (UMBA) and funded by a grant from the European Union.

We are pleased to share with the readers of the Redaktorskyi Portal important details and our own findings discovered during the operation of the information hub for internally displaced persons aiming to integrate into the Rivne community.

Experience that helped us

Frankly speaking, we didn’t start from scratch. We have substantial experience in collaborating with the condominium community of the Rivne region. As part of this collaboration, we published a monthly newspaper supplement titled “Everyday Life of Condominiums,” organized thematic round tables, seminars, and meetings with representatives of local authorities and municipal enterprises. We also assisted newly formed associations of co-owners and anyone seeking the necessary consulting services. Establishing close working relations with the Department of Social Policy of the Rivne City Council and various public organizations, we have been publishing the quarterly Information Bulletin “Turbota” for the ninth consecutive year. So, this time, having signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Department of Social Policy and several associations of IDPs, we embarked on the implementation of the grant project “Media Space for IDPs.”

IDP Council round table with new Rivne residents

It’s not accurate to say that the editorial board of the newspaper Sim Dniv has not previously covered the topic of integrating IDPs into the Rivne territorial community. However, thanks to the grant project “Media Space for IDPs,” this work has become more systematic and meaningful. After all, it is now not limited to the mere publication of materials but has led to the establishment of a media hub based on the editorial office. Without the slightest exaggeration, it serves people who left their homes due to the war and now reside in the territory of the Rivne region. Many people lack live communication.

Displaced persons do not have enough communication, so our work is now not limited to publishing materials alone

This audience is still considerable. So, currently 19,046 internally displaced persons are registered in the Rivne city territorial community. Among them, 4,821 are children, 2,730 are pensioners, and 836 are disabled.

The results, frankly, exceeded all our expectations. And not only because we managed to do more than planned. Perhaps it is worth briefly mentioning this, as the published materials and conducted meetings have their own ongoing history.

What does our information hub consist of?

So, during the implementation of the project, the editorial office of “Sim Dniv” became a central information hub for IDPs living in Rivne and the region. We created two sections: “United by the Rivne region” and “VPO Rivne” (IDPs Rivne) on In the first one, we tell about the life and success stories of immigrants. The second section, “VPO Rive,” enables us to compile materials containing necessary information for internally displaced persons. Without prioritizing between more and less significant matters, these include amendments in legislation, issues of social protection, receiving benefits, providing medical services, employment, etc. It also includes news from the life of IDP associations, such as the anniversary of the creation of the YaMariupol.Rivne Support Center. These are also publications about volunteer and charitable organizations that work with IDPs. For example, in Issue No. 44 dated November 1, 2023, we featured the Charity foundation “Rokada,” which provides psychological support, complementing the information with the story of Olena Polianska from Dniprorudnyi, Zaporizhzhia region.

In addition to two new sections on our website, we held 8 discussions in the editorial office, opened a Telegram channel and set up delivery of the newspaper to 10 places of compact residence of IDPs

VPO Rivne website section

In addition to the two sections on the website, we hosted eight offline discussions in the editorial office, launched a Telegram channel with the same name as one of the two new sections on our website – “VPO Rivne,” and arranged the delivery of 200 copies of the newspaper “Sim Dniv” to 10 locations with compact residences of IDPs. The newspaper includes materials addressing the challenges faced by IDPs in the Rivne community.

Organizational issues: important points

We began, as is customary, with organizational measures. First, representatives of associations of internally displaced persons living in the Rivne region were invited to the editorial office. There are many of them: YaMariupol.Rivne Support Center, NGO “We are Kherson” of Bilovodsk Village Military Administration relocated to Rivne, Luhanshchyna Coordination Center, NGO “Kharkiv City Non-Governmental Organization “Center for Community Development” of Luhansk State Medical University relocated to Rivne. The meeting was also attended by representatives of charitable and volunteer foundations that support IDPs: Rokada Charity Fund, NGO “Crimea SOS,” All-Ukrainian Association of Displaced Persons, Spilna Mriia Charitable Foundation, NGO “Zhinocha VzaiemoDiia,” Women’s Union of Rivne region. Of course, participation would have been much less effective without the involvement of representatives from the Department of Social Policy of the Rivne City Council.

The round table discussed the most important problems faced by IDPs in the Rivne region, decided on six topics and a meeting plan for internally displaced persons. Looking ahead, we note that during the project implementation process, topics were added, and we held more events than planned.

During the round table, we learned quite a valuable lesson, which we used in the future

Furthermore, during the round table, we learned quite a valuable lesson, which we used in the future. So, despite arranging the chairs in a circle and taking seats, the invited participants somehow accidentally divided into two groups: representatives of IDPs sat on one side, and residents of Rivne on the other. I will share the conclusion we drew from this and how we utilized our “discovery” a little later. And now I want to draw attention to another, equally significant observation.

During the meeting, we decided to hold the course “A cup of coffee in Rivne” at the editorial office

At first, the communication was too “lean” and official. In fact, this was a logical continuation of why people took chairs in groups. However, when the coffee break commenced following the “official” part, and the editorial staff guests gathered around a common table, the conversation became much more friendly, giving rise to most of the ideas for cooperation through informal communication

Technology: nuances that we have identified as significant

So, over coffee, our project “active circle” was formed. To facilitate quick discussions on everything needed for effective interaction, we have launched the “Media VPO” Telegram channel. For public communication, specifically with a wide audience, we utilized the Telegram channel “VPO Rivne” (yes, with the same name as the category on our website). This channel includes announcements about scheduled meetings or information about other events organized by the editorial office.

Here I want to go back a little in time, but logically this remark is essential right now. Right from the beginning, before the inaugural round table, our editorial staff formulated a questionnaire and conducted a survey of displaced persons to precisely identify the current issues and requests of IDPs. We needed to be certain, not approximate so that we could plan our activities with a focus on people’s requests rather than our interpretation of their needs.

We need to be certain about what exactly the displaced persons lack. To plan our activities with a focus on people’s requests, rather than relying on our own assumptions

According to the survey, people who have left their homes are most concerned about employment and housing issues. Moreover, we are not so much discussing the scarcity of jobs but rather the issue of salaries, which in Rivne are significantly lower than those in industrially developed regions (Kharkiv, Mariupol, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, etc.). As one of the heroines of our publication, Yana Hraborova from Mariupol, who has three higher educations, mentioned that she was offered a job as a cleaner in a barber shop with a salary of UAH 6500 at the Rivne employment center. This is when she earned five times more in a day in Mariupol, having her own business. In the end, the same problems were raised every time during the round tables.

Pastry chef Yuliia Khazhanets shared her experience of starting her own business

In addition to other people’s requests mentioned in the answers to our questionnaire, a significant place was devoted to problems related to learning the Ukrainian language, providing psychological assistance, informing about medical services for IDPs, obtaining additional education with the possibility of further employment, and preventing employment fraud. The editors submitted the most common ones for discussion during round tables and meetings.

We know for sure that the key lies not in hard copy but, first and foremost, in the usefulness of information and the convenience of consumption

In addition to distributing all materials related to the topic of IDP integration on our online platforms, we have also arranged for the delivery of an extra 200 copies of the newspaper “Sim Dniv” to 10 locations where IDPs reside in significant numbers. These newspapers contain materials addressing the challenges faced by IDPs within the Rivne community. After all, not all displaced persons have access to internet resources (we are talking, in particular, about the elderly). And even this was not sufficient, as it often occurs that internally displaced persons come to the editorial office to collect a copy of a newspaper featuring a story about one of their fellow countrymen or to obtain regulatory documents posted on the pages. Therefore, it is absolutely wrong to assume that no one needs the print press! We know for sure that the question is not in hard copy, but, first of all, in the usefulness of information and in the convenience of consumption, and, of course, in people’s habits and what they prefer.

I must mention the discussion as a highly important format. After all, it is fundamentally incorrect to assume that the current scope of the editorial office’s activities is limited to the publication of materials solely on traditional paper or the latest digital websites and social media platforms. During the work on this project, the editorial staff organized 8 meetings. Two round tables were attended by representatives from IDP NGOs, charitable foundations, and the Department of Social Policy of the Rivne City Council. Participants in these meetings had the opportunity to discuss the integration of IDPs into the urban community, as well as to talk about existing charitable foundations and public associations that offer assistance to IDPs. In the article published in No. 48 on November 29, 2023, Olena Petryk, Director of the Department of Social Policy of the Rivne City Council discussed charitable and volunteer organizations (along with their addresses) that provide assistance to IDPs. She also introduced new changes in regulatory documents concerning internally displaced persons. Considering the demand from IDPs for the newspaper, this time the editorial board increased the circulation to 400 copies, which are distributed free of charge in places of compact residence of displaced persons.

It is absolutely wrong to assume that the activity of the editorial office today is only the publication of materials on various platforms

In addition to organizing round tables to discuss problems in the conference hall of the editorial office, regular meetings are held with the subjects of journalistic materials (not only those covered by this project). During these sessions, they share success stories and their own experiences of integration into the new community. For instance, during an event for internally displaced persons attended by representatives from the Rivne Center for Vocational Education, the heroines of our publications – Maryna Pavliuchenko from Donetsk, Tetiana Khaustova from Kharkiv, and Nataliia Dubova from the Luhansk region – shared their experiences in obtaining training vouchers. All of them are currently pursuing their second higher education in Psychology at Rivne State Humanitarian University and the National University “Ostroh Academy.” By the way, after learning about these meetings from social media, Victoriia Shcherbina from Kherson, who found shelter in Slavuta, Khmelnytskyi region, began to join them. According to the woman, she can’t find a job there. After learning about the events we organize in the editorial office through social media, Ms. Victoria has already participated in two meetings – one with representatives of Vocational Training Center and the Employment Center, discussing the possibility of obtaining a training voucher, and another with the NGO “Crimea SOS” to explore grants for starting her own business. As Victoriia Shcherbina admitted, she hopes that she will be able to gain knowledge that will help her start her own business.

The meeting between IDPs and representatives of the Rivne Vocational Training Center was highly productive

The productivity of the meeting between displaced persons and specialists from the Rivne Vocational Training Center is evident from the information provided by the press secretary, Lida Poliova: “After the meeting, one woman among the IDPs promptly reached out to us. She asked about the artificial intelligence training course because she wanted her son to take it. And already on December 4, after completing the training, the boy received an official certificate.”

Results that inspire us

In fact, each publication and meeting at the editorial office generated a corresponding resonance and was supplemented with new ideas and plans. For instance, following the publication about Oleh Dehtiariov from the Luhansk region, a student of the Luhansk State Medical University now residing in the city of Rivne, he was invited to establish the Youth Council of Rivne IDPs. In turn, after the publication of the material, we organized a round table on the topic “Psychological Aspects (Problems) of the Integration of Young People among IDPs into the Rivne Community,” where, in addition to displaced persons, representatives from Rivne youth cells also participated. Furthermore, the participants of this meeting agreed to conduct regular events in the conference hall of the editorial office. Alongside discussing their pressing issues, they will organize various seminars and training sessions. One of them, focusing on psychology, was conducted by Oleh Dehtiariov, currently in his 5th year studying psychotherapy, and he already possesses valuable experience and skills.

There is nothing more motivating for us than the words that the editorial office has become a space where you can not only learn about current news and challenges in Rivne, but also join in solving them

There is nothing more motivating for us than Oleh’s words: “The editorial office of “Sim Dniv” has become a space where I can not only learn about current news and challenges in Rivne, but also join in solving them. This is a place where active citizens, interesting people, and future friends gather. It also serves as a space for initiatives and projects, which others are happy to support. So as soon as we managed to solve the problem of space for initiatives, it immediately inspired my friends to develop their own quiz for students and other entertainment and educational activities.”

Representatives of Rivne youth organizations also took part in the discussion of the problems of youth integration into the Rivne community

The story of Karolina and Oleksii Savostieievs, spouses from Kramatorsk who founded the Children’s Fund “From Life to Life,” has a logical continuation – they are now contemplating the establishment of their own private school. After the publication, the editorial office received inquiries from five readers requesting the address of a charitable foundation dedicated to the educational development of children, including both internally displaced and local children. Karolina Savostieieva mentioned that an increasing number of parents are approaching them with requests to enroll their children in study groups. However, the founders of “From Life to Life” currently face a challenge in accommodating everyone due to an issue with the premises. They have been asked to vacate their current location, but obtaining a new one, or additional spaces, is currently impractical due to the high rental prices.

The meeting concluded on a positive note at Tvorcha Oselia café, where the owners, Oleksii and Lilia Ohon, treated the guests to a special dish called “stefanyky.” Liudmyla Herus, a Ukrainian language teacher at Nadiia Center, provided practical advice for IDPs during the event: how to overcome psychological barriers in learning the language and find the most effective learning options. During that meeting, it became apparent that the “A Cup of Coffee in Rivne” course, opened by Prosvita, is unable to accommodate everyone who wishes to learn Ukrainian. So, there was an idea to initiate additional Ukrainian language courses for internally displaced persons at the editorial office. The implementation of this idea, as agreed with the head of the Rivne City organization “Prosvita,” Kateryna Sychyk, will commence upon the completion of the formation of a group, limited to no more than 15 people.

In the end, each meeting was quite productive. For instance, following the publication of “Physically Olena is in Rivne, and her Soul is in Zaporizhzhia” on November 1 (which recounted the life story of a woman assisted in overcoming deep depression by psychologists from Charity Foundation “Rokada”), a meeting was organized in the editorial office at the request of IDPs with Olena Stavytska, practicing psychologist of the Charity Foundation “Rokada.” She told the displaced people about ways to solve psychological problems. She shared practical tips on how to overcome the psychological barriers in communication, anxiety, and stress and find the best possible option. IDPs asked the psychologist the questions that most concern them, and received contacts where to apply for psychological help.

This is how Olena Stavytska spoke about meetings with IDPs in the editorial office, highlighting their effectiveness: “A psychotherapy group is a kind of safe space where a person, bringing their own life experience and understanding of reality, starts to establish interaction with other participants. The group is a small project of a large social community. Working out situations, behaviors, and reactions helps people achieve the desired changes faster.

A psychotherapy group is a kind of safe space, says the psychologist

The psychotherapy group has its own dynamics, where each individual participant, with their unique life stories and emotional baggage, becomes a kind of instrument. This allows everyone to observe and engage with the shared situations that evoke emotions, react emotionally, and attempt to perceive them in a new way based on the experiences of others.

A group is also a creative process that allows the discovery of the meaning of what is currently happening in your life through the free expression of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and experiences. It is this situation that can significantly improve the quality of life. The experience gained in the group makes it easier to adapt to the challenges of society. The way each of the group members builds their relationships with others, spending a lot of emotions, living a variety of feelings allows them to see their behavior from the outside and understand what others are feeling. However, it should be noted that working with deep early experiences and traumas is more effective in individual therapy, where the focus is on the specific person and their past.”

By the way, Olena Stavytska has repeatedly participated in meetings organized by the editorial staff, where she discussed the impact of psychological condition on physical health. The events held with her (which were described in social media) became the impetus for the launch of another volunteer project. Nataliia Prazhmovska, a psychologist at the Aniko Medical Center, has proposed a partnership to the editorial office. Since mid-November, she has been conducting weekly classes with relatives of defenders who died in the war against the invaders. These classes are conducted within the framework of the seminar “Dealing with Loss and Psychological Trauma.”

More than 20 displaced persons attended the training on “How to access medical care in Rivne and choose high-quality healthcare products,” conducted by Zoia Malyshchenko, the chief physician of the Bilovodsk General Medical Center. Bilovodsk Village Military Administration submitted information about medical care for IDPs in Rivne. Myroslava Tykhoniuk, who crafts natural body care and skincare products, not only shared insights on selecting high-quality skincare items without spending a fortune, but also provided each participant with samples of her products.

The meeting with Oleksandr Burdiuk, an IDP self-employment consultant from the NGO “Crimea SOS,” aroused great interest among IDPs

The meeting with Oleksandr Burdiuk, a self-employment consultant for IDPs from the NGO “Crimea SOS,” generated significant interest among IDPs and lasted twice as long as planned. The speaker spoke in detail about the project implemented by Crimea SOS together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was a grant for IDPs to provide livelihoods (for starting their own business, training, or retraining). This grant, ranging from 2 to 10 thousand dollars, provides individuals the opportunity to start their own businesses or enroll in training courses without the need to hire an employee. This meeting further confirmed how much more effective live communication is compared to just published information. After all, the participants of the event had the opportunity to receive answers to all their questions and even schedule individual consultations with Oleksandr Burdiuk.

Live communication is superior to just publishing information because participants at the event can receive answers to their questions and schedule individual consultations

According to Oleksandr Burdiuk, in the week that has passed since the meeting, he was approached by four internally displaced persons. “This is a long process,” says the consultant. “People can still hesitate. And, of course, this is not suitable for everyone. Therefore, four people who have already scheduled consultations are a good result. Thank you for organizing the event!”

It is pleasing that the editorial office of “Sim Dniv” is increasingly being approached by displaced persons for information, advice, and requests for assistance in addressing various social issues.

We are truly grateful to our mentors!

It would be unfair not to mention those who helped both in the implementation of the project and in the work as a whole. The advice from mentor Borys Rodiievskyi on the development and monetization of the Telegram channel was particularly valuable for us. Tips for Instagram, which can be the main thing in the formation of Sim Dniv brand.

Starting to implement his tips and tricks, we changed our social media strategy. Of course, these are not yet the indicators that we hope for. But there is progress.

The help of IT experts was very useful. In fact, since the beginning of the big war, we have been trying to solve the problem of the website, which was repeatedly attacked by Russian hackers.

Thanks to the implemented project, we have improved traffic to the website and social media accounts. We have better feedback from readers. Covering the topic of integration of IDPs helped to find a new reader, and therefore increase our readership.

But, to be completely honest, participation in the project significantly supported us financially. It served as an impetus that had a positive impact on the cohesion of the editorial staff. It’s also noteworthy that participation in the project enabled us to finish 2023, a particularly challenging year, without any salary debts.

The concluding part, but not the final one

Of course, the topic of integration of IDPs into the Rivne community will not lose its relevance for the editorial staff in the future. During the implementation of the project Media Space for IDPs,” which primarily focused on economic integration, the idea arose to seek funding for a project tentatively named “United Family.” This project emphasizes the social adaptation of displaced people to the Rivne community.

After all, it is no secret that despite all the tolerance, sometimes there are “sharp corners” in relations between migrants and locals. During organized meetings, certain facts surfaced – though this phenomenon is not widespread – that distort the overall understanding of the real picture of cases.

For example, some individuals complained that no one wants to hire IDPs because employers assume they are displaced: today they are here to learn everything, and tomorrow they will return home. There are cases when internally displaced persons are rudely reproached for speaking Russian. Some residents of Rivne, drawing conclusions from isolated examples, believe that all migrants are idlers and drunks. Various negative rumors are spread to sow discord and contempt, although, in reality, things are not at all as some people want to portray.

This reverse side of the coin is what our editorial staff intends to show with concrete examples and cases. Specifically, to share the stories of families in Rivne and Mariupol (the latter relocated to Rivne) who have formed friendships with one another. About volunteers from Luhansk region, who, having felt support in Rivne, are now helping their fellow countrymen who remained under occupation in every possible way. About artists who moved to Rivne and joined the cultural life of the city. About the Rivne volunteers who have been helping internally displaced persons since the first days of the full-scale invasion.

Additionally, the editorial board plans to implement several events conceived during the previous project, including open Ukrainian language courses and organizing a joint event involving local historians from both Mariupol and Rivne. Hold a master class on cooking kutia in Rivne, an evening of carols and other Christmas and New Year’s events. Of course, we will continue what we started, including meetings (now inviting both IDPs and local residents), psychological trainings, round tables, etc.

In a few words, we want to show that we are all different, but this only enriches, and does not divide Ukraine.

AUTHOR: Svitlana PIKULA, Director of Editorial Office of Newspaper “Sim Dniv” LLC, Rivne

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.