by Maksym Mazypchuk, Local Correspondent from Ukraine.
Civil society organizations in many countries are facing pandemic challenges. Civic activists have shifted their work from their usual and planned activity to emergency relief. New initiatives emerging at the local level appear to be more collaborative in nature. In Ivano-Frankivsk, civil society organizations have established a partnership with local businesses and public authorities to support overwhelmed hospitals.
The Ivano-Frankivsk IT Cluster, Teple misto Platform, Active.People.IF and Community Initiative StopCovid19.IF have merged into the Anti-Crisis Fund to unite their efforts on helping their city to fight the Covid-19 virus. They are providing essential equipment to hospitals and protecting the vulnerable groups of their community.
Civil society organizations are collaborating closely with local businesses and IT companies that are supporting people in need. The Anti-Crisis Fund created a separate bank account for hospital needs. They are raising money for emergency relief, collecting medical supplies and protective gears for overwhelmed hospitals. The anti-crisis fund IF has raised 6.3 million hryvnias (as of 31.05.2020). Citizens and businesses donated money, protective equipment, antiseptics to the common cause of fighting COVID 19. The current infographics of the donations and hospital needs are updated weekly on the ifvscovid.org initiative website.
“Ivano-Frankivsk is a city with proactive citizens, and there is always a lot of public activity, charity campaigns, and interesting initiatives. Moreover, mostly, we all know each other; we have common projects and interests. So, our alliance is natural, and it was not difficult to unite our efforts. We are united by a common goal – to support the city in its fight against the coronavirus. We have started acting together, collecting resources, contacts, and creating synergies. Our organizations have established cooperation with the city council and regional state administration. Following the list of healthcare facilities’ needs, we maintain contact with the majority of medical facilities in the region. It was difficult in the beginning when there was huge demand and limited resources”, explains Mariana Ozorovych, Ivano-Frankivsk IT cluster.
So what does the Anti-Crisis Fund do?
- fundraising (attracting funds from local businesses and individuals);
- monitors the daily needs of hospitals and directs the funds for procurement, according to priority;
- coordinates resource assistance processes with partners, whose activities counteract COVID-2019;
- updates the Ivano-Frankivsk community about the latest pandemic related news.
On April 3, the Anti-Crisis Fund and the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional State Administration signed a collaboration memorandum. The Anti-Crisis Fund is working with regional authorities to identify hospitals with urgent needs to distribute aid.
“One of the most important aims in cooperation with the authorities is to receive up-to-date information about the medical institutions’ necessity to clearly understand what needs to be purchased and where to transfer as a priority. In fact, with the assistance of the City Council and the Regional State Administration, we managed to establish the necessary contacts with medical institutions and form a database of their requests”, Mariana Ozorovych.
The Anti-Crisis Fund IF has launched a program for supporting local businesses as well. It helps companies to adapt to the difficult economic situation and find new formats of running their business activity through access to education and mentoring support.
“We have a coordination group in the Anti crisis fund, which meets online almost on a daily basis. During such meetings we share the results, discuss urgent needs and requests, plan further activities. It is almost like an evening family gathering. If a new challenge arises, we discuss it and try to develop an action plan. Together we get better results than apart”, Mariana Ozorovych.
Newly forged alliances with businesses and local authorities can help civil society organizations to develop and reach more extensive networks of people. This experience can build a broader coalition around the issue and have a greater impact on the community.
“Activities in times of crisis, limited resources and an unstable situation are stressful for CSOs, but on the other hand, this is very mobilizing, and stimulates non-standard approaches and solutions, opens new horizons. I see many successful examples of common activities against Covid 19 in Ivano-Frankivsk and other cities. This is the bright side of the quarantine period. CSOs should find like-minded people, partners, those with whom their goal and vision coincide. After all, it is a variety of views and opinions, support, and resources. Crises can provide new opportunities”, Mariana Ozorovych.
The Anti-Crisis Fund has been supporting hospitals and socially vulnerable groups for months. Thousands of people feel that support and know that they are not alone in this challenging situation. Despite the crisis, civic activism is alive and looking for finding new approaches to help the community. The coronavirus pandemic is pushing everyone to reassess their activity and adapt to a new lifestyle.
This article was produced by Maksym Mazypchuk, the Project’s local correspondent and EaP Civil Society Fellow from Ukraine in the framework of the EU-funded ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions’ Project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Maksym Mazypchuk and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Project.
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