One year on: Continuing to support the people of Ukraine (part one)

Around 8 million refugees have left Ukraine and 5.9 million people have been displaced within the country since its invasion in February 2022. And by January 2023, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has risen to 17.7 million. [1]

From fundraising to volunteering, many people have offered support to those in need. One year on, Schroders’ colleagues Rodrigo and Christopher, share their experiences that they hope will offer you insights and encourage you to offer your support. Stay tuned to hear more in our part two article coming soon.

In March and July 2022, Rodrigo Kohn, Research Analyst, volunteered on the Poland-Ukraine border in Przemysl, co-ordinating the transport of civilian, medical and military aid into Ukraine and supported a local refugee centre.

Rodrigo's volunteering photos

Rodrigo: I have Ukrainian friends from university and I’ve witnessed first-hand how their lives turned upside down. My friend Miliena, from Mariupol in southeast Ukraine, has had her family home destroyed, lost her grandmother and had the rest of her family split up.

I spoke to other friends in Ukraine and Eastern Europe to find out how I could help, and social media remains a useful source of information. Groups on Facebook are co-ordinating all types of volunteering efforts and aid on both sides of the Ukrainian border.

I’m supporting a smaller charity called HUB SOS-UA, who in the first three months of war transited over €300m of aid along with 200 cars for the military, 10 ambulances and two fire trucks.

If you want to go out there and volunteer, I’d recommend using social media, NGOs or people you know who’ve been impacted, to find out how to help. It may take time to hear back, so be prepared to be patient and persistent. You’ll soon build a network and if someone doesn’t need a volunteer, they’ll know someone who does. But prepare for plans to change, I only knew who I would be working with a few days before I travelled.

There are local opportunities too. In London specifically, it’s worth checking with the Ukrainian Institute, Ukrainian Welcome Centre or Polish White Eagle Club. Plus, fundraising!

The refugee waves have subsided, and there’s been a steady stream of people returning to Ukraine as people begin to feel safer. But this may change, and we need to support them. I hope to return to help in April.   

Christopher Bradley, Programme Manager, is passionate about supporting Ukraine, inspired by his wife who was a refugee from Ukraine 20 years ago during the Orange Revolution.

Christopher on the left

Christopher: We’ve opened up our home to host those in need three times over the last year. At Christmas, Natalia and her sons joined us, they were homeless due to rain damage and no heating in their council property. We gave them a very special Christmas before they returned to their repaired flat. Natalia left her husband fighting on the front line and shared details of her terrifying journey escaping the war zone on foot, hiding from shelling and patrols.

Our local council’s Ukraine hub identifies areas and families we can immediately support. My role was as a driver, picking up people and materials, when and where needed. My wife has been translating for the NHS, local councils, and even local courts. Some calls leave her in tears because of the heart-breaking situations.

The key challenge I’ve witnessed for displaced Ukrainian people is language and that their qualifications aren’t reciprocal in the UK, for example doctors, nurses, dentists.

Ukrainian people have shown how they’re adaptable and resilient, they’ll make a huge contribution wherever they are, and once Ukraine is rebuilt, we’ll see massive growth. Many Ukrainians want to return home, it’s the younger generation though who want to stay to potentially build careers. We need to support them all.

Through Schroders’ emergency response appeal, our people collectively fundraised and donated over £350,000 to charities providing humanitarian aid and support to Ukrainian people, within Ukraine and those displaced in other countries, including the Red Cross and the Ukrainian Crisis Relief Fund.

We support our people and the causes which matter to them, through global employee engagement campaigns, employee fundraising matching and volunteer schemes. Find out more about our charitable partnerships and what it’s like working at Schroders.

[1] UK Parliament 

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