Many of us have been staring helplessly as horrific scenes unfold in Ukraine and wondering what we can do to help from here in the UK
Sometimes, the obvious things to do might not be the best ideas. And in some cases, can be more of a hindrance than a help. So what can you do that will genuinely help Ukraine?
Money in many forms
The top priority – and something we can do easily from home – is donate money. The Red Cross and the UNHCR Refugee Agency are two obvious choices. Here is a link from the Ukrainian Institute London that includes a long list of reputable charities to choose from, all of which make sure your money will go where it is really needed. The aid workers on the ground in Ukraine and its borders are well placed to ensure this happens.
For cryptocurrency users, the Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Federov has posted crypto wallet addresses where people can securely donate, such as Uniswap, DMarket and Solana Foundation. Federov has called on all crypto exchanges to block the addresses of all Russian users and praised those who have stepped up. Binance has not joined in, with the CEO citing “financial freedom” and “libertarian” reasons, so that might be one to avoid.
Getting money there directly
A clever way to help out is to pay for stays in Airbnbs in Ukraine where people are being housed for free by generous hosts. Here is some information from Airbnb about how you can donate this way.
Also, Etsy is waiving all fees for Ukrainian sellers, so you can buy digital products direct. Obviously it’s not a great time for people to be making extra things. But you can pay for downloadable stuff like crochet patterns, art, colouring pages, posters, and so on. Search ‘digital files’ on Etsy.com, click ‘All filters’, then under the location section, add Ukraine in the custom box, and voila.
What kind of stuff can you actually donate?
The crisis in Ukraine is not an excuse to clear out your wardrobe. Or offload the bag of stuff you were going to give to the charity shop that has been sitting in the boot of the car for months. In most cases, you are better off giving old clothes, toys and household items to a local charity.
The refugees are streaming into developed countries such as Poland and Hungary where they are being provided with clothes and blankets as well as places to stay.
The things that are really needed are medical supplies and sanitary products. It can be hard for people who don’t work in medical procurement to obtain medical supplies in the quantities needed. So it is often better to donate money to charities and organisations that are equipped to do this.
When you’ve left everything you know behind because of war, keeping in touch with friends and family becomes critical
Sanitary products, such as pads, tampons, nappies and wet wipes, are always welcome when people are crossing borders en masse often with just the clothes on their backs and whatever they can carry. If you are keen to donate things rather than money, these are the sort of items you can drop off to local donation points. And be safe in the knowledge that they should get to people who need them.
Some organisations are also collecting foodstuffs, such as tinned goods, rice, pulses etc, but check. Not everyone is taking the same stuff.
Cheap burner phones with pre-loaded SIM cards are another way to help out. When you’ve left everything you know behind because of war, keeping in touch with friends and family becomes critical. A lot of European telcos have stepped up to offer free data, minutes and phones to refugees. Check your own provider to see what they’re doing to help and whether you can get involved.
Make your voice heard
If you’re less than impressed with the government’s response to the growing humanitarian crisis, write to your MP. They are obliged to reply to every letter from their constituents. And it has never been easier to send off a strongly worded missive. WriteToThem is a simple way to make sure your email lands in your MP’s inbox.
And of course it is important to stay informed. On Twitter, it is easy to follow the UK journalists who are doing some fine reporting from the frontline. But also seek out Ukrainian journalists who are giving a voice to people who are quite literally under fire. Reporters Without Borders is a great place to find out about the heroic reporting that is coming from locations. Locations far more dangerous than Silver’s cushy offices. As we write in safety and comfort, our hats are off to these brave reporters who are doing amazing work to keep us all informed.
In a career that has spanned Australia, the Middle East and the UK, Georgia has written about all sorts of things, including sex, cars, food, oil and gas, insurance, fashion, travel, workplace safety, health, religious affairs, glass and glazing… When she’s not writing words for fun and profit, she can usually be found with a glass of something French and red in her hand.