April-May 2022 | Comment

Rotary’s support for Ukraine

Rotary’s support for Ukraine

Rotary Great Britain and Ireland representatives Amanda Watkin, Nicki Scott and David Ellis comment on Rotary’s mission to help those affected by the recent war in Ukraine. This story contains content readers may find upsetting.

A dark cloud hangs over Europe with the war in Ukraine; death, destruction, and displacement, with more than a million refugees fleeing the terrifying bombs and bullets which have been raining down on this proud nation.

The world has responded with an outpouring of support and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and Rotary, as the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, has been at the forefront of these efforts.

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The United Nations estimates that five million people could be displaced by the conflict. Innocent people have lost their lives and families are being torn apart by war and violence.

As an organisation who has peace as a cornerstone of our global mission, we stand with the people of Ukraine.

Rotary clubs across Great Britain & Ireland have been overwhelmed by the level of public support to their bucket collections, so how is Rotary in these isles co-ordinating this work?

The Rotary Foundation (TRF) has confirmed that all funds received in its Disaster Response Fund by April 30th, 2022 will qualify for use in support of the Ukrainian relief efforts.

For Rotary GB&I this means that donations can be made to The Rotary Foundation of the United Kingdom’s Disaster Response Fund (RFUK). This allows for the addition of 25% Gift Aid on eligible donations, meaning every £1 donated becomes £1.25.

This is in response to Rotary members requests around the world to contribute funds to support relief efforts. It is strongly recommended that funds are not transferred directly into banks in Ukraine.

Districts are being encouraged to use their District Designated Fund. That is money which Districts don’t have to raise for, but which has already come back from The Rotary Foundation immediately translating to cash into bank for The Rotary Foundation to give disaster fund grants.

We are people who take care of others. Rotary is very good at it and has been doing this for 117 years.”

A Rotary GB&I Ukraine Crisis Taskforce has been created to provide a Rotary co-ordinated approach to the Ukraine crisis.

Their focus will be on displaced people leaving Ukraine, as well as those remaining in the war-torn country which will be communicated to Rotarians throughout the UK and Ireland.

Jersey Rotarian, Allan Smith, is leading the team as Rotarians across the world unite to make a difference.

The Taskforce will work alongside the Inter-Country Committees (ICC) featuring nations with close connections with Ukraine. James Onions (Kew Gardens Rotary) is working with an ICC team led by Rotary International Director, Katerina Kotsali- Papadimitriou.

Inside Ukraine, Rotarians are supporting refugees. They are assisting local services for sick and injured people.

These people need personal assistance, housing, food, medical supplies and even shoes. Rotary is running a train daily into Ukraine with humanitarian supplies and returning with up to 700 refugees.

Rotary’s ICC lead on relations with Ukraine, Tata Gick (District 1130), is identifying the needs of refugees in the country – medicines (especially dressings and pain killers for adults and children), warm socks, thermals, food, bullet proof vests, blankets, sleeping bags, first aid kits, dressings, hygiene products, toiletries, woman pads, nappies, wet wipes, torches, batteries, candles, laptops, phones, and tablets with good batteries.

The ICC lead on relations with Romania and Moldova, Peter King (Kew Gardens Rotary) is identifying needs of refugees once they have left Ukraine.

The Rotary Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals, led by Dr John Philip (Newbury Rotary), is activating their network of volunteers to assist and access medical items. There is a critical shortage of medical supplies.

The financial need is huge and getting bigger. Displaced Ukrainians need our help and every Rotary club has its own way to fund-raise.

Financial donations to support these two Rotary organisations are needed through club donations, and even crowdfunding by clubs, districts or even a cluster of districts.

It is recommended that districts hold and distribute any funds raised, using an existing bank account for club’s donations including crowdfunding.

The Taskforce will work with districts to release funds for the work of ICC and The Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals until funds can be transferred.

Rotary is running a train daily into Ukraine with humanitarian supplies and returning with up to 700 refugees.”

While there is urgent need right now, we must not lose sight that the real work of Rotary is in the longer term – just as Rotary has done in Afghanistan and with Sudanese refugees.

Rotary is going to have so much work to do supporting refugees for some time to come.

Rotary has an important part to play in this conflict. There is the power of the Rotary network which is able to connect others and find solutions.

Such as the 180 children who were ferried across the Ukranian border, on a train to Budapest and then an 11-hour flight to Delhi thanks to the interventions of Katarina Kotsali-Papadimitriou and Rotary International President, Shekhar Mehta.


This is the power of the Rotary network. It’s not just about raising money, but it is who knows who.

We are people who take care of others. Rotary is very good at it and has been doing this for 117 years.

We are there for the long run.

As an organisation, we are trusted and valued. For 14 successive years, The Rotary Foundation has received the highest rating by Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities.

Channelling money through The Rotary Foundation receives gift aid as well, leveraging the money we receive for greater use.

And in a world of opportunism, Rotary is a brand, and The Rotary Foundation is a charity which people can trust to help ensuring well-intentioned giving reaches its destination.

There will be immediate funding needs which the ICC and Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals can help with.

But there will also be a longer-term need, so by sending money through The Rotary Foundation for Disaster Relief Grants, this means the cash goes further and l asts longer.

As Rotarians, we are focused on making a sustainable difference for the longer term.

We are going to focus on what we do best by partnering with other organisations in the war zone, and supporting refugee families in the best way.

A couple of Rotarians working together to help with provisions for those in need.

We will do this through our existing infrastructures and networks, as well as seeking to amplify that money with matching funds to make it go further.

We saw an outpouring of people helping immediately after the conflict began in March. We know as Rotarians we are in this for the long term because the impact will be here for many years to come.

If you would like to donate to support such projects un Ukraine please follow this link.

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