April-May 2023 | Features

Making a home from home

Making a home from home

Cheryle Berry and Jannine Birtwistle of the Rotary GB&I Humanitarian Service Team summarise the variety of ways Rotarians across Great Britain and Ireland have offered their support to Ukraine over the past year.

Rotarians across Great Britain and Ireland have united to welcome our Ukrainian guests, helping with their immediate and longer-term needs. They have used their networks, skills and experience, often at very short notice, to provide a wide range of resources and support.

Rotarians are pleased to do whatever they can knowing the stress of the trauma experienced by our guests and understand their ongoing concerns and sadness for all those in Ukraine will be with them for many years to come.

Listen to this article

The Rotarian network of Rotary district resilience officers in Great Britain and Ireland, led by Brenda Parsons and Peter Dowse, have coordinated many of the activities.

Here are just a few examples to give an idea of the extent of our Rotary help:

  • Clothing, toiletries, toys, furniture and household goods have been collected and distributed by Rotarians, Rotary clubs and Rotary districts.
  • Rotarians working with estate agents have identified affordable housing for those leaving their initial host accommodation.
  • Translating medical and educational documents into relevant languages.
  • Ensuring vaccinations such as Covid and polio are up to date.
  • Registering with local GPs and enrolling at local schools.
  • Working with Rotary GB&I partner, Bipolar UK, to produce a directory of mental health services, translated into required languages.
  • The Rotary Club of Dronfield distributed personal journals in Ukrainian and English to help guests record their experiences to work through their feelings and emotions. This is a simple way of overcoming the trauma of the conflict, helping integration with their new community.
  • Issuing free phone cards for contact with relatives and friends.

Clothing, toiletries, toys, furniture and household goods have been collected and distributed by Rotarians, Rotary clubs and Rotary districts.

  • Providing laptops for communication and translation.
  • Arranging regular coffee mornings and social meetings for Ukrainian guests and their hosts.
  • Setting up summer activities for young Ukrainians at sports centres and outdoor activity centres.
  • In Derbyshire there are plans for leadership and team-building activities throughout the year.
  • Celebrating Ukraine Independence Day, including traditional music, dancing and food, working with Ukrainian groups.
  • Holding Christmas parties and distributing Christmas hampers and toys.
  • Addressing the gaps in ‘English as a second language’ provision by setting up conversation classes in libraries and community centres.
  • Distributing arts and crafts materials to enable hobbies to be continued or new ones started.
  • Holding environmental workshops on recycling and textiles reuse.
  • Helping people retrain and/or continue their careers and professions, such as in Rotherham a Ukrainian guest, who was a plumber, is being equipped with the necessary tools to continue his trade.

We thank everyone for their tremendous determination to help as many of our Ukrainian guests as possible alongside all the other work Rotarians do in their communities.

Rotarians across Great Britain & Ireland are continuing their support to our Ukrainian guests wherever, whenever and however they can, and there are exciting plans for the future.

Our magazine covers a wide range of fascinating features, exclusive interviews and inspiring human interest stories from across the world of Rotary.

Listen in audio format Download full digital edition

Rotary Magazine