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The Network Power. How civil society organizations implement changes

Publication date: October 30, 2023

In February 2023, the Legal Development Network launched a program to support and strengthen local organisations’ capacity to respond to war challenges. As part of this program, 15 member CSOs of the Legal Development Network and partners of the Solidarity&Justice CSOs Coalition strengthened their activities in legal and other areas related to community recovery, crisis response, social cohesion, and CSO development.

From February to September, they provided more than 2,630 legal consultations to residents of more than 20 communities in Lviv, Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Chernivtsi, and Mykolaiv oblasts.

Thanks to close cooperation within the project with representatives of the Ukrainian Paralegal Association, lawyers of local organizations solved the legal problems of residents of remote communities who need proper access to qualified legal assistance. In this cooperation model, community advisors identify cases of legal issues among citizens, engage a lawyer in communication, and, as a result, get clients aware of their rights and possible solutions to their situation. Thanks to this cooperation mechanism, it was possible to provide qualified assistance in 17 cases.

The organizations began providing psychological assistance services, which benefited more than 180 community members, including IDPs.

Through their active participation in community life, the program participants help resolve conflicts related to massive legal issues, establish IDP councils, promote the social integration of IDPs into community life, provide mentoring support in the process of establishing new NGOs, and establish mechanisms for employment and participation in local decision-making.

12 organizations continue to receive support in October and November to implement quality changes in their communities.

Find below a few stories of how civil society organizations respond to challenges and implement solutions.

How access to justice is being established in remote communities in Lviv oblast

Since February 2023, the Legal Development Network has supported the initiative of the NGO “Youth Initiative Center” (Chervonohrad, Lviv oblast). The organization systematically assisted two remote communities – Belz and Dobrotvir, located near Poland’s border. Both communities still did not have systematic access to legal aid. Thanks to the organization’s systematic work, residents have become aware of the need to solve legal problems, and local authorities have established communication with residents of remote villages. In addition, local democracy tools are being developed and implemented.

Access to legal aid in the Khmelnytskyi oblast. On the approaches to the solution of grassroots organizations

Since February 2023, the Legal Development Network has supported the initiative of the Podil Legal League (Khmelnytskyi), a team of lawyers and a psychologist, as part of a program to strengthen local organisations’ capacity to respond to war challenges. The work included visits to employment centers, places of compact residence, and remote villages, where consultations were provided to the unemployed, including people with disabilities, the poor, and war veterans. The systematic work and approaches used are described in this piece. 

Relocated human rights activists from Donetsk oblast help IDPs find housing, jobs and more

Some of the member organizations of the Legal Development Network not only expanded their areas of work but were forced to change their residence due to the challenges of russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. One is the NGO Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas, which moved from Sloviansk to Zaporizhzhia.

How human rights activists and paralegals implement comprehensive legal aid in small communities

Paralegals transmit requests from community residents, and lawyers respond to them, communicating and synchronizing through instant communication tools. The «community residents – paralegal – lawyer» model is an innovative approach that allows residents of remote communities to seek legal assistance while supporting them in doing so. What are the prospects for this model, how does it actually work? The following will discuss the experience gained from experts from the Legal Development Network and paralegals.

Human rights activists of Bila Tserkva region help IDPs to master the profession and tools of local democracy

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Bila Tserkva-based NGO “Legal Unity” (Kyiv region) has not only continued to provide legal aid to residents of Kyiv oblast communities, but has also implemented crisis response and recovery and social cohesion activities. An example is the systematic work with the community of internally displaced persons, which has been supported by the Legal Development Network since February 2023 as part of the program to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to respond to the challenges of war. We will talk about how the organization helps IDPs become self-sufficient and influential below.

“Public Legal Aid Service”: adaptation and assistance to IDPs

Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine has forced millions of people to flee their homes. The NGO “Public Legal Aid Service” from Novoaydar, Luhansk Oblast, which moved to Dnipropetrovs’k Oblast, is one of those organizations of the Legal Development Network that adapted to the new conditions and continue to help people.

Legal aid and psychological support: new horizons for STEP in its work with IDPs and communities

The NGO “Strategies and Technologies for Effective Partnerships” (hereinafter referred to as “STEP”) has been actively working with communities in Zaporizhzhia and neighboring regions, local governments, youth and vulnerable groups for 15 years.

Pravo transforms humanitarian hub into a center of civic activity in Khmilnyk

The NGO Pravo, based in Khmilnyk, Vinnytsia Oblast, has been providing comprehensive support to IDPs and the local community since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Even with limited resources, the team of six permanent members and volunteers has managed to implement a number of important projects. Their work is a vivid example of how a group of activists can have a significant impact on community life.

From legal education to art therapy: how the NGO Committee of Voters in Chernivtsi helps people in difficult life circumstances

Since the outbreak of full-scale war in Ukraine, the activities of many organizations have changed significantly. This is also the case with the Chernivtsi Regional NGO “Committee of Voters” in Vyzhnytsia, Chernivtsi oblast. In addition to providing legal aid, the organization has begun to actively engage in humanitarian aid and psychosocial support. Since February 2023, the organization’s initiatives have been supported by the Legal Development Network as part of a program to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to respond to the challenges of war. Let’s consider what ideas have been implemented recently.

How NGO “Trikutnyk” from Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, helps IDPs 

Against the backdrop of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the role of civil society organizations in providing assistance and support to community residents is becoming increasingly important. An example of such an impact is the work of Trikutnyk, an NGO based in Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.

«Northern Human Rights Group”: protecting the rights of displaced persons in the Sumy region in the conditions of war

Sumy oblast, as a border region, experienced partial occupation by Russian troops and liberation in 2022, and now continues to be under constant threat from shelling. In this difficult situation, the Northern Human Rights Protection Group continues to actively assist internally displaced persons and community residents in the legal sphere.

How a displaced human rights activist provides legal support to IDPs in Lviv oblast

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Maryna Kuprykova, a human rights activist from Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast, was forced to evacuate to Lviv. There, she began providing legal assistance to internally displaced persons. In 2023, her initiatives were supported by the Legal Development Network as part of a program to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to respond to the challenges of war. Read more about the results of the activities in the story below.

The materials were created with the support of the international charitable platform GlobalGiving and Legal Empowerment Fund (program of the Fund for Global Human Rights) and the Legal Development Network. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Legal Development Network and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations mentioned above.

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