RefuFam: Austrian State support for families in Ukraine

Employment, livelihoods & entrepreneurship

RefuFam: Austrian State support for families in Ukraine

Women selling crafts at RefuFam stall in Ukraine 800px

The project in brief

Implemented by: Austria, Ukraine, NGO Volkshilfe Solidarität, NGO Narodna Dopomoha

Country: Austria

Duration: The project was launched in October 2014, and ran until the end of 2020.


Project aims 

The project promotes the social inclusion of internally displaced persons in Ukraine. The focus has been on families, women and single parents in the city of Chernivtsi, and on the mutual understanding and acceptance between internally displaced persons and the host society.

In the first phases of the project, supporting refugees from Eastern Ukraine with basic necessities (housing, income, psychological care, childcare etc) was the central concern. In further phases of the project, the focus was on labour market integration, professional qualifications, social integration and generating income.

Resources used 

The project, carried out in four phases, was funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection.

After the start of the Ukrainian conflict in 2014, Volkshilfe in cooperation with Narodna Dopomoha Ukraine (NDU) started the “RefuFam” program to support internally displaced persons (IDPs) to restart their lives in Chernivtsi. The project aimed to support the integration of IDP families in the Chernivtsi community, with a strong focus on women. “RefuFam” included assistance in the form of social and psychological counselling, financial support for housing and – at a later stage – support in finding work and integration into the labour market. In 2016 a group of women – both IDPs and host community members – interested in crafting, started to emerge. They received support through training, both for their crafting skills and for marketing and selling their products. Based on this initiative from the community, a “hub” – training and community center for crafting – was established and named “FortelUA”.

At the beginning of 2019, more than 200 beneficiaries were active participants of the activities in and around the FortelUA hub. A strong community has developed as a result of these activities, supporting each other in all aspects of life. However, the situation of women and IDPs in Ukraine remains difficult, particularly because of high levels of unemployment, poverty and gender discrimination.

The central purpose of QuAC project is the development of skills relevant for the labour market, which is essential for long-term integration through proper job/income opportunities.


Crafted products on display at the stall - jars of homemade with knitted hats on top


  • Austrian Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection
  • Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine
  • NGO Volkshilfe Solidarität
  • NGO Narodna Dopomoha

Challenges and how they were overcome


The main obstacle during the implementation of the program was misconceptions of IDPs in the hosting community. During the first years of implementation, the project team was met with resistance from locals, who themselves felt vulnerable and unsupported. As most of the project activities were targeted to support only IDPs, the host community felt their own needs and problems were considered to be less important.

A second challenge for the team has been the limited number of IDPs involved in the project activities.

How they were overcome

To overcome this challenge and to foster mutual understanding between the IDP families and hosting communities, the representatives of the hosting community were actively involved in the project activities. This enabled more understanding and tolerance between both target groups and better possibilities for joint development. The ratio between IDPs and members of the host community is 60/40 (60% IDPs and 40% host community members)

Results of the Good Practice 

  • 70 IDP families received financial support for accommodation in Chernivtsi
  • 90 starter packages were provided to 70 IDP families
  • 70 IDP families were registered in the Registration Centre
  • 53 financial counselling sessions were organized
  • 76 children received support on finding places in kindergarten and schools
  • 101 IDP women and 67 children from IDP families received psychological and social support
  • 170 beneficiaries (123 women and 47 men) received job application training
  • 166 beneficiaries (98 women and 68 men) were supported in employment processes
  • 49 IDP women and 33 women from the hosting community were involved in marketing initiatives
  • 234 representatives of IDPs and 31 of the hosting community have participated in meetings and discussions on tolerance and understanding
  • At least 5 000 representatives from IDPs and the hosting community (Chernivtsi and Kiev) have experienced interaction and communication during participation in project activities (training events, fairs, etc.)
  • 6 project beneficiaries from Ukraine and 4 staff members have participated in a study visit to Austria
  • 5000 citizens of the Chernivtsi and Kiev communities have been informed about the project activities (Crafting Hub’s activities, training, MC, fairs and festivals, etc.)
  • 300 crafting women received printed information material

Next steps 

Will be decided after the end of the project cycle in 2020/2021