Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of the morning on Thursday 24 February, the world has been left reeling as the horrifying events have unfolded. Watching the devastating scenes of airstrikes taking place in Kyiv and seeing women and children desperately trying to flee the country have left us all feeling appalled and helpless. But there is action you can take to help Ukrainians, from those sheltering in cities as well as the hundreds of thousands of refugees currently on the move. From donating to trusted charities to amplifying voices on the ground, here are some meaningful ways you can help Ukraine now.
The key charities to donate to
Since launching in 2015, Choose Love has raised millions to support refugees around the world with their unique model, which combines fundraising and retail to provide essential supplies and services for refugees. They’ve now turned their efforts to the crisis in Ukraine, setting up a fundraiser that is hoping to raise £1million for projects providing emergency medical care, food and shelter, as well as legal support to both those in Ukraine and those fleeing.
Love to Ukraine T-shirt
As part of their fundraising efforts they have also partnered several artists and designers, including fashion’s favourite embroiderer Cressida Jamieson and British artist Charlie Mackesy, to create a series of limited edition organic cotton t-shirts emblazoned with messages of love and support for those in Ukraine, with all proceeds going directly to the charity.
The British Red Cross has set up a specific Ukraine Crisis Appeal to raise money for food, water, clothing and medical supplies for those caught up in the fighting, while the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of The Red Cross are working tirelessly on the ground to support those who are being displaced by the war.
While the recent escalation in Ukraine has made headlines around the world, there has been conflict in the region for the last eight years and Unicef has been working to support Ukrainians throughout that entire period. The charity is raising funds to provide help for the 7.5million children that could be affected by the conflict, as well as working to ensure child health and protection services continue amid the crisis.
Save the Children
This global movement works across 120 countries to improve the lives of children in need and has recently extended its Emergency Appeal funds to distribute humanitarian aid to children and their families in Ukraine. The money they raise will go towards providing winter and hygiene kits, psychological support, access to education and cash grants for medicines.
A registered charity in England and Wales, British-Ukrainian Aid has been raising funds since the Russian invasion first started in 2014 and has helped thousands of civilians who have been displaced or injured since the conflict began, working closely with charities and NGOs in Ukraine to deliver support directly to those in need. They are currently looking to raise £200,000 to go towards medical aid and evacuation projects across the country.
Voices of Children
This Ukraine-based charity offers support for children affected by the trauma of war, providing them with specific treatment and rehabilitation. They work on the front line to deliver specialised programmes, from art therapy and video storytelling to mobile psychologists, to help children cope with the impact and long-lasting consequences of growing up in a war zone.
Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal
This fundraiser, which has been organised on behalf of the Association of Ukrainians in Britain and works with accredited charities on the ground in Ukraine, has already raised over £1million to provide food, medicine and critical services to the most vulnerable. As well as helping those currently in crisis, they hope the funds will go on to help with the longer-term impacts of war, including extreme poverty and mass displacement.
Help refugees through the UN
The United Nations Refugee Agency is working with the governments of countries near the Ukraine – most notably Poland, Hungary and Moldova – in order to keep as many borders open as possible for those seeking safety. They’ve launched an emergency appeal to send more resources, staff and aid to neighbouring countries to support them as they take in hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Take in a refugee
As well as helping the UN with their work, you can also support refugees by offering them a room in your own home. The Room for Refugees Network, which is run by Positive Action in Housing, has created a community of over 8,000 hosts to make taking in men, women and children fleeing war-torn countries as easy as possible. Simply sign up to offer a spare room for as long as you can manage, depending on your circumstances, and they’ll look after the rest, vetting all applicants to ensure a harmonious match. You can also sign up to Ukraine Now, who offer the option to host Ukrainian citizens who have fled the country. Providing a safe haven for those displaced by war as they seek to get their lives back on track can be one of the most practical – and the most rewarding – ways to help.
Donate key items
Various sites across London and the UK are accepting donations of clothing, bedding and other items that will be delivered via convoys heading to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries. One of the biggest donation sites in London can be found at the Polish White Eagle Club in Balham, which has been inundated with donations since last week. Key items to donate include new or very good condition clothes and shoes (particularly thermal and winter clothing), duvets, blankets and sleeping bags, batteries, torches, nappies and sanitary products. The Ukrainian Social Club in Holland Park has also been accepting donations of clothes and medical supplies, as has Lewisham’s Polish Centre, while the Portsmouth Baby Bank is putting together family care packages from donated items that include baby wipes and nappies, as well as cuddly toys.
Several key donation drives are also being organised through social media. My Beauty Matches founder Nidhima Kohli is currently posting on Instagram to encourage donations of toiletries, clothing and bedding for convoys driving to Moldova and Ukraine, while maternity nurse and Louenna app founder Nanny Louenna is organising for supplies to be sent out to vulnerable babies and children.
Amplify Ukrainian voices
Following key people on the ground in the Ukraine and amplifying their voices – as well as their appeals for support on social media – can help raise awareness of what’s going on in the country. Ukraine’s much-lauded president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is currently tweeting in English to provide real-time updates from the conflict in Ukraine, as is the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba.
Some of the fashion world’s key figures have also been posting about the situation, including one of Kyiv’s leading designers, Svitlana Bevza, 1 Granary magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief Olya Kuryschuk and designer Vita Kin. Meanwhile, in the UK, Ukrainian chef and author Olia Hercules (whose parents and brother remain in the war-torn country) has been sharing useful information about the crisis, as well as ways in which her followers can support those in need.
Support Ukrainian journalists
It is vitally important that independent Ukrainian English-language media outlets are able to operate and keep covering developments as the conflict unfolds. Two of the main titles are The Kyiv Independent and Ukraine World, both of which are currently accepting donations via Patreon. There are also several key journalists that are worth following, including freelance correspondent Olga Tokariuk, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford, BuzzFeed correspondent Christopher Miller and The Kyiv Independent’s editor, Olga Rudenko.
Take action at home
While donating money and supplies are a great way to lend your support, there are also practical things you can do closer to home to make a difference. You could write to your local MP to express your concerns about the situation in Ukraine and suggest ways in which the government can do more to help. If you’re unsure about the wording, the Ukrainian Institute has drafted a template email you can use – it takes less than ten minutes to do and is one of the most effective ways you can make your voice heard by those in power.
There have been numerous protests organised in London and around the UK over recent days, calling for peace in Ukraine – British-Ukrainian Aid has been sharing details of those taking place in London for anyone who wants to join, as have Ukraine Solidarity Campaign and Euromaidan London.
Finally, there are a number of petitions you can sign to help those in the Ukraine, including a Change.org petition calling for the UK government to provide more help for Ukrainian refugees and a parliamentary one asking the government to fast track those seeking asylum here through being displaced due to the war. The Ukrainian Institute has also pulled together a comprehensive list of petitions worth signing.