This is a thread for those affected by the on-going war in Ukraine, directly or indirectly, to offload, give updates, talk things through, and find and offer support. Please use the other thread to discuss geopolitics, frontline news and so on.
Could somebody throw me a reliable list of charities for people that want to donate towards e.g. refugees and mental health that I can put at the top? I’m afraid I’m not well researched enough to confidently post links that aren’t dodgy.
Latest as I can comprehend re: Ukrainians with British family and no passport/only domestic ID in Poland - they should apply to the Ukrainian Embassy for Emergency Travel Documents, fill out a family reunion form citing humanitarian circumstances, then go to the VAC in Warsaw for biometrics; carrier letters will be sent from there, so there is no need to return to the VAC for a decision. It’s still an application-centred process, but the fee has been waived and decisions are apparently being made within 24 hours.
Ok so some organisations to donate to regarding Ukraine. I am focusing on the Polish response to refugees mostly. A little on getting medical supplies into Ukraine.
https://www.pah.org.pl/en/: A major polish charity that has a decent track record and is dealing with the crisis. They allocate funds both for humanitarian support to the refugees as well as some acts in Ukraine. The advantage is as its not case specific they can amend due to the changing demands. Such as the fact that we have wayyy to much food donated when pharmacutical supplies are more in demand (bandages, tampons, painkillers, etc). Also thermos clothing. The situation is very dynamic so having a charity that can make decisions about where the funds go later is useful. Problems are like most major charities. Relatively large overheads. Not immediately transparent in how the money is going to be used.
https://salamlab.pl/en/ukraine/ - A Krakow based group that helps run the multicultural centre I volunteer at. They are largely coordenating the Krakow response. This is mostly legal help, translation services, 24 hours on arrival accommodation, networking services to match empty homes with new people. Issue is that its only Krakow based. Krakow is not the most popular destination for refugees. But there are still loads of people coming in and I can guarantee that the funding will help people and almost all go to services.
zrzutka.pl/en/xk4xmf - advised to me by the Krakow based writer/activist Stefan Bielik who is a good person to follow on twitter for an Central/eastern European perspective on leftist politics (@prstskrzkrk). Letjaha are mostly focusing on the core citizen organised aspects of the crisis. That is shuttling people from the border, finding them accommodation, and helping them get settled on arrival. It also has some connections within Ukraine, including someone to help people cross the border from deeper in. It involves members of pretty much all the coolest left wing orgs in Krakow.
Its twist is that it is particularly focused on people who have challenges to find hosts or cross the border. This is LGBTQ, Disabled, and racial minorities. That might need special assistance or struggle to find housing in which they can be fully accepted into.
Had a very long day in Warsaw yesterday. Many brilliant volunteers at Zachodnia. Big queues at the Ukrainian Consulate. My wife got shouted at that she should be so lucky because nearly everyone there didn’t have a husband or other adult male to help them, since theirs are in the army. Mother-in-law now has a temporary travel document by some minor miracle.
UK Visa Application Centre told us that the updated online form with fee waivers for extended family should be live from 12pm GMT today. We still need to book appointments for both my wife and mother-in-law; walk-ins are still possible, but no guarantees of actually getting an appointment that way. Staff member we were talking to from TLS was from Bosnia, said “I’ve had to go through this shit before”.
First night here, went to bed; in the darkness, could hear the cat crunching dry food, which was the first time he’d eaten in days. He’s a bit shaky on his legs (11ish year old Scottish fold), but seems to be a bit calmer.
My wife makes morning rounds of messages to see if her friends are still alive. We get replies in stages. So far, everyone seems to be alive, if not entirely safe.
Aye. For all the local good intentions in the UK, negotiating the logistical hurdles seems fraught.
e.g. Mossgiel dairy sending trucks of donated items to there from Ayrshire. It’s not bad per se, and to be fair to Mossgiel they seem to be doing things logically, in partnership with Polish charities, and with some success. But is it really the best way for us here to help? Feels potentially ‘a bit BrewDog’ in the wrong hands.
I was swayed to the DEC by the thing of donations being matched by the UK Gov up to £20 million. Plus the gift aid extra on top. And it being an umbrella group for a bunch of charities, so hopefully funds can be channeled directly into whichever is best positioned to react at any one point in time.
Not that I’m any sort of authority on these things at all, though.
So some Ukrainians we were hosting (a mother and her child) have left to warsaw where they have a friend of a friend and will settle for 4 or 5 months while attempting to apply for a US visa.
I feel empty now. We made collages, shared Cyrillic vs Latin alphabet and a few other things. It was a short stay and not at all awkward. Anyone who can host a refugee now or in the future I advise you do it. Way less scary then it seems.
Didn’t want to clutter the other thread, so writing in here.
Summary of the last VAC trip
The applications for the Family Scheme went in on the weekend. Self-uploaded documents, went to the Visa Application Centre in Warsaw on Monday. To say the place was chaotic would be an understatement. At least 300 people were there, three or four-wide in corridors barely big enough for two, on the word/semi-guarantee that appointments were walk-ins, mostly without printed documents and all very desperate. The VAC is on the first floor of a hotel whose reception staff were a bit miffed by the number of people asking to use their printers. The VAC has a copier and a scanner, but you can’t use that independently - you need to book an assisted scanning session, and in normal circumstances, it’s a paid service. After the first assistant suggested that we’d just have to wait it out, my wife managed to catch the attention of the Bosnian staff member we met on Thursday, who was able to help us get into biometrics sooner.
Currently waiting for the DMC (Decision Making Centre) to return the application, with a decision, to the VAC. Could be hours, could be days - original intention was apparently to make decisions in less than 24 hours, but given how many people we saw in one hour in Warsaw, I think things are going to be stretched out somewhat. We’ve been incredibly lucky so far in terms of the last two weeks, but I keep feeling like that streak is about to run out on us.