A Creative Hub for Young Refugees

Helping young Ukrainian refugees to take the library with them, wherever they are.

The challenge 

According to the Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees, nearly 1.2 million Ukrainians have entered Bulgaria since February 2022. Varna on the Black Sea Coast is one of the focal points of the refugee crisis. The Ukrainian community here – mainly made up of women and children – is temporary. Many refugees feel vulnerable, isolated and abandoned.

The initiative

Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library in Varna wanted to reimagine how to be a supportive and accessible centre for refugees – particularly for children and young people – by developing activities for art and culture.

The challenge team set up a modern, multifunctional interactive hub where young people could present and share their artworks without any questions or conditions. Their initial idea was to create a physical space but now they have a different idea.

They said: “Now we want more – we want to create an idea for a library that is always with you, because the library is where community [members] find support and come together as a better society. The Library is where you are. You are the Library.”

They organised four workshops as well as study groups and meetings. Three more were planned for early 2023. The initiative aims to help refugees to integrate through art and cultures and to give them a chance to find a common language.

What’s next?

The challenge team plans to keep going, to dream big, to learn quickly and to be adaptable when things don’t go to plan. They are actively looking for supportive partnerships, advocacy and assistance from other groups and organisations, as well as funding to help continue their work. 

They said: “Young people are shaping the European future. Their needs, desires and ideas are important. Their cultural and social integration is essential. For us, [it] is important to collect, shape and give voice to their visions. The good news is that – no matter where – young people have almost the same needs. And if we find the right key, it will be a solution for every European library.”

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