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Frontpage News 2009 Lithuanian childrens hot line

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Lithuanian childrens hot line

Lithuanian civil society activity has received a major boost thanks to support from the EEA and Norway Grants. More than 100 projects are supported through the NGO Fund, including a help line for young people with psychological problems.

The "Vaikų linija" ("Children's line") is a service helping children and youngsters with psychological problems through telephone and internet counselling. The service, the only one of its kind in Lithuania, has been granted €82,000 in support in order to enable it to expand and improve on its already existing activities. With this expansion, more calls and requests can be answered, giving more youngsters easy access to qualified psychological help.

Voluntary workers are the backbone of the help line, and a newly selected group of 140 volunteers will participate in training programmes on how to face the users of the service, including theoretical preparation, situation analysis and role play. In addition, further education will be provided for volunteers and supervisors already taking part in the programme. The general scarcity of access to psychological help in the country gives the development of services such as the help line particular value.

Overwhelming interest
The help line is one of 105 projects receiving support from the NGO fund. These were selected from a total of almost 400 applications for funding as the open call for proposals was held last year. The overwhelming response confirmed the need for support to the Lithuanian NGO sector. "The number of applications far exceeded the most optimistic expectations", said Kasparas Jakubėnas at the Ministry of Finance, which functions as the national intermediary of the fund. About half of the approved projects are already well underway, while the remaining ones are set to start this summer.

A vibrant civil society sector is a crucial part of a thriving democracy, and aiding non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has been a central aim for the support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway throughout the 15 beneficiary states. This has not least been the case in Lithuania, where the €5 million NGO fund has made available highly sought-after funding for the country's associations, public institutions, charities and other organisations.