As we enter a second national lockdown, the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt close to home. In the UK, there are almost 600,000 fewer people in paid employment than before the pandemic, and 300,000 fewer job vacancies compared to this time in previous years. It is likely we all know someone whose employment or income has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures.
In many of the countries where World Jewish Relief works, the impact of Covid-19 on employment is felt even more harshly.
In Ukraine, where many of our employment programmes are based, there are over 1 million newly unemployed since the pandemic began. Alongside a significant increase in food prices and minimal government support, this is making daily life increasingly challenging. The UN estimates that more than 9 million Ukrainians are at risk of falling back into poverty during the pandemic.
With whole industries having shut down at the very start of the pandemic, many participants on our livelihood development programmes lost their jobs or had to close their businesses in mid-March. This affected not only themselves, but also their families, for whom they could not provide basic food and hygiene items.
Graduates of our programmes were also hit hard: about 50% of former participants lost their employment, with more than 90% facing some loss of household income.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, through our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal we have provided additional funding to ten of our livelihoods partners, to help them support their participants and graduates during lockdown.
Our partners have adapted their activities to ensure they continue to economically empower participants. Most activities have moved online, with a focus on providing participants with extra internet connection and access to online meeting platforms. In Eastern Europe partners have run extra sessions on topics such as non-violent communication with family members, to meet the unique needs of participants under lockdown. Our partners also assessed the humanitarian needs of their participants and provided relief to those needing urgent support.
For Pavel (pictured), the support of the livelihood development programme during lockdown has been transformative. Pavel is 29 years old and lives in Lviv, Ukraine. He is motivated to work but has struggled to find employment as he is severely disabled. He is a good communicator, yet he finds that because of his disability people do not understand him. Before he joined the project he was receiving frequent job rejections, which left him feeling depressed. Through the project he learned skills such as how to work with a team, as well as receiving practical support with how to move around a workplace environment. Crucially, the relationships he built with other participants motivated Pavel to start working on himself again and look for work with the project recruiter.
During the pandemic, the project recruiter was so impressed with Pavel that he was offered a role as a recruitment consultant himself. However, he did not have the technology needed to take on this role from home. With our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal funds, Pavel was given a laptop, which allowed him to work effectively from home. With technology and training tailored to his needs, he has had a smooth transition into the role.
I was happy that the project staff gave me both moral support, through a psychologist and recruitment consultant, and material support in the form of a computer that enables me to work
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