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Can I take in Ukrainian refugees in the UK? How you can help and what you can donate

The i 07/03/2022 Alannah Francis

More than 1.7 million people have been forced to leave their homes in Ukraine in the last 12 days because of Russia’s invasion. In many cases, people have fled with only a few personal possessions. Their plight has prompted an outpouring of generosity and kindness from around the world.

In the UK, more than £100m has been donated to the Disaster Emergency Comnmittee’s Ukraine Humanitarian appeal, with over £200,000 pledged by i readers.

From sending food and clothes to donating money directly to charities on the ground, there are numerous ways that people wishing to support people affected by the war in Ukraine can do so.

Here are some of the methods people can use to show their support for those affected by the war in Ukraine.

Can I take in refugees from Ukraine?

The heartbreaking stories of families who have been made homeless by the conflict have sparked a renewed interest in refugee hosting – the process of opening up one’s home to displaced people.

The UK has extended its family visa scheme for people fleeing Ukraine but it has not lifted restrictions entirely.

The Prime Minister has announced that the Government is working on a sponsorship scheme that would enable Ukrainians with no family ties in the UK to come here if they are sponsored by communities or local authorities.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scheme would also allow individuals and businesses to sponsor people from Ukraine.

Details on how to apply to be a sponsor under the scheme are due to be announced shortly by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

You can sign up to host refugees from Ukraine via a number of specialist charity websites such as Refugees at Home.

In the meantime, Shelter4UA.com is a website that works to connect people in need of accommodation with others who have places for them to stay.

What kind of donations are needed the most?

Charity workers have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the public but there is a danger that donations of food, clothing and medicine could clog up logistical routes, which are already under threat due to the volatility of the war.

Physical donations also mean humanitarian workers have to spend time sorting through items to determine which products are suitable to ship to those who need them most.

Because of these potential problems, monetary donations are often preferred, and are most needed.

Where can I donate money?

If you want to donate money to charities helping people impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, you can support the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Funds raised will go towards meeting the most urgent needs of all people fleeing, such as food, water, medical assistance, protection and trauma care.

A number of charities and humanitarian organisations have also launched their own appeals.

The International Committee of The Red Cross, which has been working in Ukraine since 2014, is increasing its response. It supports people with essential supplies, as well as repairing water stations and helping reconnect families separated by the conflict.

The UN Refugee Agency has also launched an appeal.

Where can I donate clothes and supplies near me – and should I?

Charities and community organisations around the UK have appealed for essential items to send to people who have escaped the war with only what they could carry. However, due to the unprecedented scale of donations, some centres have now paused collections.

Below are some of the places across the country that are still accepting physical donations. Please first check that the items you are thinking of donating are needed.

  • The White Eagle Club, Balham, south London – 211 Balham High Rd, SW17 7BQ. Check here for what items are needed and when you can donate.
  • North London Collection Centre – 233 Willesden Lane, NW2 5RP. 7am-8pm.
  • The Polish Club, Southampton. They paused their collection but are set to resume this week, keep an eye on their Facebook page for details.
  • Refuweegee, Glasgow. They have already sent deliveries to Poland, and on their Facebook page you can find an up to date list of essential items they need.

More collection points can be found here.

Other ways to help

Humanitarian workers are best placed to know exactly what supplies people fleeing conflict need and which products are running low. For those who prefer to donate physical goods, one way to do this effectively is to purchase aid packages. UK charity RefugEase has a digital shop where these can be purchased for Ukrainian refugees, and it has already started deliveries.

Other people have been keen to support refugees fleeing Ukraine directly, and have done so by purchasing goods from Ukrainians’ Etsy pages or placing and paying for Airbnb bookings with hosts in Ukraine. The purchases are made on the understanding that they won’t be fulfilled, but instead will help put money directly into the pocket of people from Ukraine.

The UK Government has been heavily criticised for its response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Campaigners are encouraging members of the public to write to their MPs and call on them to support the lifting of restrictions.

You can find out how to write to your MP here and find templates for letters on campaign group websites, like this one from the Ukrainian Institute London.

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