Natakhtari Fund and Coalition for Children & Youth will start Campaign for strengthening youth out of state care (18+) together

09.06.17

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Natakhtari Fund and the Georgian Coalition for Children and Youth signed a memorandum of cooperation on June 9. The document was signed by Nikoloz Khundzakishvili, Director of Corporate Affairs at Natakhtari Company and Maya Mgeliashvili, Head of the Board at Children and Youth Coalition.

The cooperation aims at supporting youth who find themselves out of the state care system, to ensure they have enough financial means to start living independently. With joint efforts from Natakhtari Fund and the Coalition for Children and Youth, a mechanism enabling local authorities to assist and strengthen youth outside the care system is to be created. The advocacy campaign entails collaborating with the local and central authorities to ensure the recommendations implemented are being met. A media workshop will be organized in the framework of the campaign, alongside working meetings for interested parties and active advocacy campaigns for municipality budgets to support vulnerable children and youth.

Within the framework of the signed cooperation agreement, legislative-financial instruction, a guideline for use of available resources and an appeal for funds to address the needs of vulnerable children and youth groups will be designed.

“Advocating for the support of vulnerable children and youth is a critical issue that needs to be addressed and that’s why we decided to join efforts,” Khundzakishvili said at the event.

Established in November 2011, the Natakhtari Fund launched the “Care the Future” charity project. With GEL 747,857 collected in five years, fund enabled provision of educational and employment assistance services to 307 beneficiaries. The project is realized in partnership with NGO Our House-Georgia, and with the support of the Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II. In the years 2016-2017 alone, the fund assisted 158 beneficiaries (GEL160.000).

Through the Care for the Future project, 131 beneficiaries found employment, 256 acquired different professional skills, 102 were assisted in learning school subjects, 25 beneficiaries got their driving licenses and 89 got scholarships and apartment rental.

According to the statistics, five to six young people leave the state care institution system every year in each region of the country.

“We hope that, together with the 42 organizations united at the Coalition for Children and Youth, and with our extensive experience and expertise in advocacy, we will have the opportunity to protect the vulnerable groups from falling into criminal system, assisting them to be well equipped, and supporting them in problem-solving problems as they enter their adult lives,” said Mgeliashvili prior to the signing of the memorandum of cooperation. “We hope to achieve sustainable, long-term results in changing the system”.

An example of case studies was presented by Nino Chitanava, the Coordinator of the fourth working group at the Coalition for Children and Youth, identifying the major challenges faced by vulnerable groups of youngsters at the age of 18. The non-existence of proper housing, unsuitable physical environment for living, limited access to education, unemployment, lack of competitiveness, health issues, limited socialization, stigma related to the fact of being raised in the care system, non-existence of social support networks, and the lack of social skills such as self-confidence, leadership, communication, advocacy were named as the defining factors in marginalization of vulnerable children and youth groups in Georgia.

“The systematic approach we’re implementing and are willing to conceptualize is also applicable to children and youth with special needs,” Mgeliashvili said.

“The main problem is that these youngsters don’t have a chance to acquire education and employment. At the age of 18, they are left all on their own with no means. When we started the program, back in 2011, our main objective was to help the ones who had already left the state care institutions. We’re assisting them to the point when they can take care of themselves,” said Nikoloz Khundzakishvili.