“Just don’t ask us how we are!”: Helping the Ukrainian people in our own special way

by | Jun 15, 2023

Our Outreach team was contacted by the Ukrainian Education Platform to help facilitate a series of training presentations for a group of around 45 childcare professionals (including psychologists) from across Ukraine. 

File:Ukrainian education platform logo.png - Wikimedia Commons




There was an initial anxiety when approached as we knew they needed help but weren’t 100% sure exactly what that would look like. But given everything we knew about the situation in Ukraine, we were delighted to be able to offer our support. 

A series of four 90-minute sessions were developed and delivered over a period of 9 weeks. These included sessions on ‘Making Sense of Behaviour‘, ‘Attachment Informed Practice‘, ‘Brain Development and the Impact of Trauma‘ and ‘Working Together‘. This would also build on Trauma training that we delivered in the Spring/Summer 2022 as part of our ongoing support.  

The first, obvious, hurdle to overcome was the language barrier, especially as each of the sessions were hosted online. We very quickly learned that some of our ‘go to’ phrases that are memorable because they rhyme in English do not readily translate into something memorable in Ukrainian! Yet, with the support of a very accommodating, supportive and most of all skilled translator, this proved relatively insignificant. We have even managed to have some helpful interactions and brief discussions with participants! We were also very generously supported by Alina, a Ukrainian contact, who translated key phrases for some of our slides and was generally a huge help.  

Interaction grew as the sessions progressed as they were structured in a way to help networks form as none of the attendees knew each other. It was during the final meeting when everything really came together. Significantly, this was held on the day that the Nova Kakhovka dam was attacked. It was the first time the impact of the ongoing conflict was discussed in detail. Up to that point, we’d been instructed, “just don’t ask us how we are!”, such was the emotional impact they were dealing with due to the war. Our Ukrainian colleagues explained in detail how the war had led to children losing their trust in adults and how it was the mission to try to restore this. Remarkably, despite all that they’ve been and continue to go through, their unwavering commitment to the children was only too evident.  

Ray Burrows and Morwenna Farnan, who facilitated the training sessions, reflected on what they’d personally learnt from the experience.  

A black and white image of Ray Burrows

Ray Burrows – Specialist Teacher in Outreach

A black and white image of Morwenna Farnan

Morwenna Farnan – Therapeutic Practitioner in Outreach

I’ve learned so much throughout the sessions: how to be more succinct and clearer in our delivery whilst ensuring we put across the essential core of the training, and being thoughtful and mindful of the language we use to convey complex concepts.” explained Ray.  

Agreeing with Ray’s observations, Morwenna added,It was lovely to be able to help the people of Ukraine in our own special way. If anything, it was a chance for the group to take some time and talk”.  

It was truly a privilege to work with professionals who are so dedicated to supporting children and young people, who are also likely to be personally experiencing traumatic events, and we’ve been humbled by their expressions of gratitude for our work with them. 

We’ve been invited to visit Ukraine after the ‘victory’, which we will definitely do. But until then, our door remains firmly open to help and support in whatever way we can.