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Extension of support for the “Hope for Children” CRC Policy Center shelters in Nicosia and Larnaca

Every day, thousands of children around the world become victims of violent or traumatic circumstances. Children who have suffered from physical abuse in the family, bullying at school, sexual harassment, and the consequences of parental divorce – all need professional help.

The Andrey and Julia Dashin’s Foundation strives to support projects and programs that provide financial, psychological, and legal assistance to children who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. One such program is dance movement therapy, which the foundation sponsored in August 2020 for shelters in Nicosia, at the request of the “Hope for Children” CRC Policy Center.

From the observations of the psychologists and representatives of the center, therapy had a significantly positive effect on the children. They have become more stable mentally, express their emotions much more, and are easier to connect with. The program provided participating minors with an opportunity to relieve stress and anxiety and get in touch with their emotions, which helps build resilience to trauma, and along with strengthening group training, it also provided them with a safe space to regain their self-esteem. All this significantly increased the effectiveness of psychotherapy and improved the conditions and quality of life these children have.

Today, “Hope for Children” CRC Policy Center operates two children’s shelters, “Homes for Hope”, in Nicosia and Larnaca for the accommodation and support of unaccompanied children aged 13-18. The experiences endured by the children, before being referred to “Homes for Hope”, result in trauma and/or stress as a result of living in and fleeing violent situations, losing loved ones, and undertaking dangerous and stressful journeys to safety. In total, there are 44 children in the Nicosia shelter and 24 children in the Larnaca shelter. The shelters aim and intend to provide unaccompanied children with more than just accommodation, thus providing multi-disciplinary and holistic services to the children which cover all aspects of daily life and attend to their needs to the fullest extent possible, with a special focus on psychosocial support and legal guidance. The children of the “Homes for Hope” are under the legal guardianship of the Director of the Social Welfare Services.

Overall, HFC implements multifaceted humanitarian programs related to the promotion of children’s rights, prioritizing their wellbeing, their education, and the prevention of any kind of violence against children, as well as providing psychosocial and legal support. At the same time, HFC also focuses on the implementation of European-funded programs that involve research, capacity building for professionals, and policymaking on issues pertaining to children’s rights.

Some of the programs implemented under the Humanitarian Division of HFC are the “Foster Care Program” in collaboration with the Social Welfare Services supporting more than 200 foster parents island-wide who take under their care children in need of family; the “Children’s House”, which handles cases involving sexual abuse or exploitation of children with a focus on the interdisciplinary and interdepartmental approach, ensuring the involvement of all competent authorities and services under one roof; the operation of the “1466 Helpline”, which provides psychological, social and legal support to children and families; the “European Helpline for Children and Adolescents” – 116111; the “Missing Children Hotline” – 116000 and the “Child Abduction Alert” in cooperation with the Cyprus Police.

“Hope For Children” also implements educational non-formal education workshops in schools all over Cyprus, including the “Beat Bullying Program”.

In October 2021, the foundation satisfied the Organization’s reapplication and financed a renewal of the “Dance Movement and Psychotherapy” program for the “Homes for Hope” – Nicosia shelter and the “Children’s House”. Additionally, it has also provided the opportunity to conduct a similar “Kinesis Program” at the “Homes for Hope” – Larnaca shelter.

Programs of this kind apply the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support the body’s intellectual, emotional, and motor functions. As a form of expressive therapy, it is an effective mental and emotional healing tool to help children cope with their traumatic experiences. The complex past events the children experienced affected them emotionally and mentally, often hindering their development and positive progress in life. The therapists use movement to help the child achieve emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration. In addition, it provides a safe environment in which the child can understand and release their traumatic experiences, which are vital to the healing process.

Many children from “Hope for Children” have experienced violence and traumatic experiences in the past. Our foundation aims to help these children overcome these experiences and begin a new chapter in life. Our goal is to help minimize their anxiety, apathy, stress, depression, and fear by helping them regain their self-confidence and improving their relationships with the outside world. Pure, vulnerable, and sincere – children connect with the Universe through feelings and emotions on a sacred level. We sincerely believe and hope that our support will help them regain inner balance and encourage a zest for life.