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5 initiatives supporting Ukrainian refugees

Words by Smiley Team

Across the world, groups of people are coming together to help those suffering as a result of the Russian invasion on Ukraine.

Charities – both nationally and locally – have launched specific appeals to help Ukrainian refugees, but community groups and local people are also uniting to offer support.

Here are five initiatives running to support those in crisis right now. 

[Read more: How can you help the people of Ukraine?]

1. Buying and driving British ambulances to Ukraine

Khaled el Mayet, from Gloucestershire, is arranging to donate old British ambulances to Ukraine. He will fill them with supplies to go via Poland first, and then take them on to Ukraine. He's also appealing for funds to buy new ambulances to get them over to the people who really need them. “We’re going to be collecting donations to fill up ambulances with supplies, then drive them across europe,” he said in an interview with the BBC. 

In 2011, when the Arab Spring was happening, he did a similar mission to fill ambulances with supplies and drive them over. “We’re hoping to take as many ambulances as possible, the more money we can raise, the more we can take,” he says. Find out more and support.

2. Feeding thousands of people

The World Central Kitchen, which founded by chef and humanitarian supporter José Andrés, headed to the ground near the Ukrainian border shortly after news broke about Russia’s invasion on 25 February to serve hot meals to refugrees. 

In just one week, the nonprofit served nearly 160,000 meals to people who were fleeing the war. They've had the support of local restaurants and volunteers from food trucks, who drove to the border to offer food to those in need. To help them continue their efforts, donate here.

3. Artists donating profits

An automotive artist-led initiative has created a charitable response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Their aim is to sell artworks from many automotive artists, via social media, where 100% of the sale is donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

Auto Artists For Ukraine is the collective group name, and they've already been heartened at how many artist, photographers and illustrator peers have pledged to help out so far – such as Tim Layzell, Helen Stanley & Ella Friere. "We’ve already raised £3,000 so far in the first two days," they say. "Over 25 artists have agreed to donate artworks, ranging from very affordable prints to larger priced items, some being auctioned. We want most works to be affordable at a set price for all to participate." Read more.

4. Individuals running charity events

Individuals are doing their bit, too. Boyo Beneath ran a charity stream on Twitter with all funds going to Project Hope, supporting Ukrainian refugees. 

Others are running virtual quiz nights to support Ukraine, as well as schools doing non-uniform days as a way to raise money.

5. Tourists paying not to stay in Airbnbs 

Tourists are booking airbnbs in Ukraine to support people in the country – and as a way to send money directly to the people who need it. 

People have been sharing on Twitter that they’d booked stays at Airbnbs in Kyiv, but don’t intend to stay there.  “I've just booked a holiday. An overnight stay in Kyiv. Saw the idea on a friend's FB page,” one person wrote. “Book an airbnb in Ukraine, hosted by an individual, send a message saying you won't be going & to use the money for what they need. It's a small way to help individuals.”

Stats show these Airbnb bookings have made nearly $2 million in aid

How can you help?

There are many local and grassroots organisations dedicated to providing support to the people of Ukraine. Here's a list of nine charities you can donate to

Photo by Yehor Milohrodskyi on Unsplash

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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