Our Vision

Mutual empowerment and support between Central, East and West European partners. We aim to empower participants to set up and run new organisations to improve their communities.

Sharing project proposals

Our Mission

  • To bring people together from economically devastated societies and create new ways forward.
  • To work as a catalyst, and respond to invitations to carry out training, exchanges, funding and networking.
  • To empower women to develop projects meeting the needs of excluded people.
  • To equip women to act as catalysts by working together for very practical goals.
  • To share experiences, and to work across cultural and historical boundaries.
  • To encourage understanding and solidarity between East and West Europe.

Photo: Presenting new project proposals in a training session.

Our Story

The Lydia Project launched in the early-1990s, in response to appeals for training from Central and East European women who wished to create community projects to meet the new social needs emerging at that time of great change. Initially under the umbrella of the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women, a trial project ran for two 3-week phases in 1995-96. We have been organising training programmes and peer-learning seminars, and helping find support for new projects ever since.

We work with women who reach all age groups: fostered and abandoned children, orphans, disabled people, senior citizens, battered or impoverished women, refugees and the unemployed. Our programmes have empowered a cascading number of workers to meet the needs of new organisations in the civil society of Central and East Europe.

Projects given priority by Lydia Project partners and contacts usually involve some form of training. The first “Children on the Edge” programmes included an educational summer camp for poor children in Georgia. Other projects enabled further education for children lacking family or state support, so that they might have a future, for example, in Russia, Albania and Transylvania. Street children have been given an education and sometimes accommodation in a number of countries.

The women in the Lydia Project network respond to needs in their communities and decide what is needed and work to meet those needs with support and encouragement. They have visions for projects and work that they clarify and launch with local and international help.

Examples of our work

Never Too Late to Learn

Facilitators worked with impoverished elderly people in Romania and Armenia. Pensions had become worthless and pensioners isolated, but there was no tradition of programmes for senior citizens. Local organisers questionned pensioners about what might enhance their lives, and trained with a resource partner with experience setting up a similar programme with the elderly in North Berwick, Scotland

Children – Not for Sale!

Worked to combat the exploitation and trafficking of children from Central Europe to countries such as Russia, or Arab Emirates. Young people were (and still are) used for petty crime, sexual exploitation and pornography. Local round-tables pooled information and invited people who could help to prevent exploitation, such as police, social workers, doctors, nurses, and church clergy, to participate in a programme of participatory hands-on training.

Exercise with the elderly
Former street child with a Lydia Project partner

Why Lydia?

We began the Lydia Project in response to women in an ecumenical network of Christian women across Europe. They wanted to set up and run new community projects and they reminded us of a very enterprising woman in the New Testament called Lydia! She ran her own business, either dealing in purple cloth or working with purple dye, and she was responsible for a household of people. When St. Paul visited her region, between east and west along the coast of present-day Greece, she was inspired and insisted on taking him home. She had her whole household baptised, and when Paul came out of jail at a later date, he came to her home. Lydia must have been part of the new Philipian community - a fine example for those who wish to begin new work and to make life better for those around them. (Acts 16:11-15, 40)

Support our work now

Donate to Lydia Project now and support communities in need in Eastern Europe.

[totaldonations-text-fields campaign="Support Women in Eastern Europe" button="yes" button_text="Donate now"]