Bakhmut Wins International UNICEF Competition Cities Inspire Awards
The project of the support system for families raising children with disabilities won Cities Inspire Awards – the international competition of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the category Child-friendly social services.
The award was launched in 2019. It highlights innovative solutions or projects that inspire, promote the rights of the child, and improve the daily lives of children and young people in cities and communities around the world.
The service system for children with disabilities which helped Bakhmut win was created as part of SPILNO (Together) project, which operates in 16 communities in eastern Ukraine. The aim of the project is to help build a system of services in the community, depending on the needs of their residents.
“In light of COVID-19, social support has become more important than ever, helping reduce the socio-economic burdens of the pandemic and enhance community resilience. Building and improving the system of social services is not an easy task. The results are not immediately visible. Building social services requires the courage to invest in the future. After all, by caring for the most vulnerable children, we are shaping the future prosperity of the community and society,” said Murat Sahin, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Ukraine.
Thanks to the project, early detection and intervention services, a Kinder Club day care centre, support groups for parents of children with disabilities, and an inclusive playground have been opened in Bakhmut. The professional competence of local social workers in the best interests of the child has been improved. More than 400 children with disabilities living in Bakhmut and their families can now use the full range of new services free of charge.
The community also encourages the development of parental support and self-reliance groups. There is also a system of anonymous feedback from parents who have already received social services at the social services centre. This helps continue working to improve the quality and availability of services.
In general, comprehensive service delivery is an effective approach to meeting the needs of vulnerable children and their families. The project proves that even small towns and villages are able to effectively organize social services, despite limited resources. A strong commitment to change, combined with capacity building and investment, can help succeed.
In the long run, the development of the social services system leads to a reduction in the number of children placed in institutional care, which in turn will reduce the burden on the local budget and allow children to live in their community and with their families.
As part of decentralization, today’s communities in Ukraine have received more responsibility for providing basic social services. It is important that local managers understand how critical it is to develop community-based services and how this affects the well-being of residents. So it is great that there are communities that are exemplary not only for other communities in Ukraine, but also internationally.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.