Matters Association (Önemsiyoruz Derneği) aims to ensure the social and cultural development of children at risk and support their psychosocial well-being. The association received grant and capacity-development support from our Children’s Fund to ensure its sustainability by improving its fundraising capacity and developing new collaborations with local governments. The association also completed and launched the digitalistihdam.org website of the Matters Digital Employment Platform project.
Read below our interview:
The number of children who can be defined as children at risk has increased with the pandemic. What causes children to be considered at risk?
The pandemic has affected and continues to affect vulnerable groups, including children, the most. During the pandemic, children remained in a reality that even we adults cannot make sense of. We can say that the level of awareness of caregivers determines the degree to which children are affected by the pandemic. The needs of children were sometimes not seen, and there were cases where their basic needs as well as their socialisation needs could not be met. This caused the pandemic to be felt differently according to socio-economic status.
In addition, during lockdowns children who were abused and neglected at home had to stay in the same environment with abusers more than before. These are some of the factors that cause a child to be considered at risk. In summary, depriving children of their fundamental needs and relatively high rates of exposure to neglect and abuse may cause children to be considered at risk.
Local governments have taken some steps to meet these needs. One of these was a project to distribute eight litres of milk per month to households with children aged 1-5 years. Civil society organisations (CSOs) carried out activities to empower key actors in contact with children, as they could not reach them directly due to the pandemic. They organised events to raise awareness of parents and caregivers and support their well-being during the pandemic. Especially experts who could reach parents through social media platforms started to share more information.
Depriving children of their fundamental needs and relatively high rates of exposure to neglect and abuse may cause children to be considered at risk.
You published the Disaster Guide for Adults and Children. Can you tell us about the content of the guide and the solutions you offer?
In this guide, firstly, we explained natural disasters and the causes of natural disasters. In the first part of the guide for adults, our experts provided detailed information about the traumatic effects of disasters and how trauma is experienced psychologically. For example, the information that trauma does not always have negative effects and that, in some cases, post-traumatic growth can also occur was quite interesting. The guide also gave information about how to provide psychological first aid and what needs to be done during and immediately after a disaster to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.
The second part of the guide is divided into three sections covering before, during and after the disaster. In this part, we have included game and activity suggestions and explained how children should be told about disasters.
Which areas have you focused on with the grant and capacity development support of our Children’s Fund? Can you tell us about the work you have done in this context?
Thanks to the funding, we started the Matters Digital Employment Platform project. With this project, we focused on women’s employment and increasing women’s vocational knowledge and skills by supporting their well-being. To elaborate a little more, with Matters, we aimed to act as a bridge for women who cannot leave their homes due to binding reasons to access jobs that they can work in their own time frames within the household and support their well-being in this way.
As a result of the training and supervision support, the participant women expressed that they felt stronger and more motivated.
The project started with the registration of participating women through the digitalistihdam.org website. Then, the women received trainings and gained the necessary professional knowledge and skills to work in call centres. At the end of this 6-module training series, participants took end-of-module exams. In the 2nd phase, women who passed the exams were directed to psycho-social support. Here, the women received individual and group supervision, and an experience-sharing network was created among the participants. This process was carried out by the project coordinator Expert Psychological Counsellor Hilal Saçar Ilgaz.
Currently, in the 3rd phase of the project, we continue our efforts to ensure cooperation with institutions and organisations that will employ the participants. However, we should note that this project not only aims to bring women and employers together but also to empower women by making them discover their potential. As a result of the training and supervision support, the participant women expressed that they felt stronger and more motivated.
With this project, which we realised in partnership with Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, we focused on women’s employment and empowerment, and our goal of increasing cooperation with local governments. Just like women’s empowerment, we find it important for civil society and local administrations to collaborate.
How did the grant support you received from our Children’s Fund contribute to your organisation? Do you have a message for our donors who support the Fund?
We increased our human resources capacity by employing a project coordinator. With the grant support, we completed and launched the digitalistihdam.org website, which is the communication channel of the project. The preparation of the training content and the modules for the website, the shooting of training videos, and post-production were also completed thanks to the grant support.
Just like women’s empowerment, we find it important for civil society and local administrations to collaborate.
This pilot project touched the lives of many women. Due to the multiplier effect, the project also had a positive impact on the women’s close circles (family members, neighbours, relatives, etc.). Women who felt stronger reflected these feelings to their acquaintances. We would like to thank all the donors who supported us in this initial stage of our pilot project.
What will be the areas and activities that your association will prioritise for 2022? Can you tell us about your plans for the coming period?
Focusing on community building and teamwork will be among our primary goals. We coordinate our volunteers through committees. We will focus on how the committees can function better and how the community can become more active and effective on the online platform. In addition, we plan to include local governments among our stakeholders and encourage them to adopt women-oriented and child-friendly policies by raising awareness in this field through our women- and child-focused activities. We also started to work on establishing partnerships with the private sector to ensure our financial sustainability. We will continue to prepare our organisational policy documents to render these collaborations more systematic. The new period of the Matters Digital Employment Platform project will also continue with new participants.
About Matters Association
Matters Association aims to ensure the social and cultural development of children at risk and support their psychosocial well-being. The association aims to determine the needs in these areas, produce scientific research and development projects and design preventive solutions by organising training and awareness-raising activities. The association designs games and toys for children at risk between the ages of 0-6 to support their self-awareness, psychological development and interaction with their environment.