April-May 2023 | Features

Putting in the hours for Ukraine

Putting in the hours for Ukraine

Counting up the work of Rotarians in Great Britain & Ireland over the past year to support the people of Ukraine.

In just over a year, Rotarians in Great Britain & Ireland have raised more than £6 million in humanitarian aid towards Ukraine, and provided volunteering hours which have amounted to more
than ten years.

That’s the result of a Rotary GB&I survey which received feedback from over 400 clubs across the region about their work in support of Ukraine.

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Internationally, Rotarians and donors have rallied to raise over £12.1 million via The Rotary Foundation’s global appeal, while in Great Britain & Ireland £412,000 has been raised for Rotary Foundation UK’s appeal.

Further, there’s been an estimated £6 million of cash and goods donated to all sources as part of the Ukrainian humanitarian appeal.

This latest survey serves as a snapshot of how and on what scale Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland has responded so rapidly to the crisis in Eastern Europe.

Clonmel Rotary Club ran a Ukrainian relief centre for 55 displaced persons for 12 weeks.

Chief among Rotary’s activities has been fund-raising, but also creating awareness of the work of Rotary. Portadown Rotary in Northern Ireland held a four-day fund-raiser to create awareness of ShelterBox and how they work throughout the world assisting people through disasters. As a result, two ShelterBoxes were provided for Ukraine.

In North Wales, Abergavenny Rotary sent £2,000 to Rotary’s Disasters Emergency Committee when the conflict started, and later raised a further £3,500 through a series of street collections.

They sent the money to Jaroslaw Rotary Club on the Poland-Ukraine border which was used for food and medical supplies for refugees fleeing into Poland and some of it was sent to a city 200 miles south of Kyiv on the Dnipro river.

Three Abergavenny Rotarians visited Jaroslaw last summer, and the club also sent five Ukrainian youngsters on the Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp, funded by a Foundation District Response Grant.

For other Rotary clubs, collecting goods – both medical and humanitarian – has been a key part of their work.

Fleetwood Rotary in Lancashire manned a collection point at the shopping centre where they filled a 40-foot container with bedding, cooking utensils and pharmaceutical products which International Aid delivered.

Blythe Bridge Rotary in Staffordshire supported a village effort to send two lorry loads of goods into Poland. One of the Rotarians has Ukrainian family, and through that connection they were able to deliver medical goods direct to Kyiv hospital.

In Hampshire, Rushmoor and Farnborough Rotary Clubs joined forces to collect 750 large binbags of warm clothing.

Oldmeldrum & District in Aberdeenshire invited a Ukrainian Rotary club president to speak to them, and as a result provided 127 black bags of items to be transported to Eastern Europe.

Fleetwood Rotary manned a collection point at the shopping centre where they filled a 40-foot container with bedding, cooking utensils and pharmaceutical products.

Also in Scotland, Inverness’s three Rotary clubs (Inverness, Culloden, Loch Ness) and Inverness Inner Wheel provided a range of warm clothing and bedding, established a shoebox appeal to provide toiletries and personal items, along with unwanted medical aids which were transported to Ukraine. Through donations, they were also able to purchase a generator.

At home, supporting Ukrainian refugees who have fled to these isles has been a focal point. Many Rotarians have hosted families, while clubs themselves have supported them. At Brookmans Park in Hertfordshire, one Rotarian took in a Ukrainian family, while the family who run the restaurant where the club meets transported humanitarian aid they had collected to the border with Slovenia.

Colchester Forum Rotary in Essex supported Ukrainian families by supplying computers and at Cardiff Llanishen they bought 20 Chromebooks to support children living in hotels in the Welsh capital.

The E-club Southwest Peninsula used a Rotary Foundation Grant to provide a laptop for a Ukrainian doctor, Olena Subocheva, to improve her English and become a settled part of the community.

Hebden Bridge Rotary in West Yorkshire and Rutland Rotary in the East Midlands are both offering English lessons for refugees. While in Suffolk, two Rotarians who are members of the Woodbridge Ukraine Hub are providing regular English classes and practical support to those living in the area.

The Rotary clubs of Inverness established a shoebox appeal to provide toiletries and personal items for Ukrainians.

In the West Midlands, Moseley and Sparkbrook Rotary partnered with a Ukrainian community organisation to buy travel passes along with warm winter coats for teenagers, plus Christmas presents for youngsters.

Lewes Rotary in East Sussex also sent warm clothing to Ukraine.

Similarly in St Machar Aberdeen, Rotarians provided household cleaning materials for ten homes used by families coming to the Scottish city. They have also donated winter coats and jackets along with various footwear.

At Clonmel Rotary in the Republic of Ireland, they ran a Ukrainian relief centre for 55 displaced persons for 12 weeks. The Rotarians raised €9,000 to buy materials to support their resettlement.

An additional €5,000 was sent to a Rotary account to support people in their country.

Dronfield Rotary in Derbyshire has been particularly industrious by raising money to send to a partner club, Warsaw Wilanow in Poland, and set up Dronfield Homes for Ukraine, providing a welcome pack and information for refugees. Interestingly, as a registered charity, Dronfield Rotary applied to Vodafone UK and received free SIM cards which have been sent to families.

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