We’re barely into 2022, yet we’re living in a state of war. The first thing we’re doing when we wake up is to check the news. The last thing we do before going to bed is to check it again. Everyone wants to do their bit to support Ukraine, be it business tycoons or broke university students, and there are many ways to do so. Here’s how you can do your bit to support Ukraine and the people who have been forced to flee their homes.
1. Donate to Non-Profit Organisations
It’s understandable that as a university student, you might not be able to afford a lot. But donating even the smallest amount can go a long way. Donating to organisations such as UNICEF, the Red Cross, or the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal are easy and convenient ways to support those in Ukraine.
2. Book Airbnb’s
Instead of donating to charities, people all over the world have recently started booking Airbnb holiday homes with no intention of staying in them. People have booked these homes as a means to directly help those on the ground. Many Airbnb hosts have used their homes to provide shelter to those who have lost their own homes in the shelling. Ukraine has more than 17,000 short-term holiday homes, according to market research firm AirDNA. So, even booking the cheapest home available just for one night could help save lives.
3. Donate Essentials
Donating money to charities is more beneficial than donating essentials, no doubt. But, if nothing else, donating essentials is also a wonderful way to support Ukraine. Throughout the UK, organisations are gathering essential supplies, such as clothes, first aid and sanitary products. Many charities and community groups will have lists of items they need. So check out these charities, and donate what you can! As university students, you’ll often have access to tinned and canned food as well. So, just donate your extra tins, and do your part in helping Ukraine.
4. Be Careful of Social Media
The UK Government, the Ukrainian Government and others have been sharing messages of support on social media using the hashtag #StandForUkraine. So, you can use this hashtag (wisely) to show your support too!
But be careful what you share! There is a lot of false information circulating online regarding the conflict. You can do your part to stop the spread. This also helps Ukraine, albeit indirectly. Without the spread of false information and fake news, people now know what’s happening, and they can then be politically correct when speaking on such sensitive world issues. So, ask yourself this before posting or retweeting. “Does this look right? Does this sound right? Does this information come from a source I recognise or can count on?”
5. Take Part in Protest Marches
People from all over the world are protesting against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a show of support. There are protest marches happening in Manchester, London, Cambridge and Glasgow. You can join any of these marches to show the people that you stand with them.
6. Write to Your MP to Show Your Support for Ukraine
You can write to your local MP to lobby the British government to place additional sanctions on the Russian government. The Ukrainian Institute in London has created a template letter for interested parties to copy and send to the MP. Anyone can write these letters; it’s not necessary to have a “personal connection” to Ukraine. You could personalise the letter to make it have more of an impact, so channel your feelings into a letter and/or an email.
Find details of your local MP here.
7. Support refugees and migrants in Ukraine
According to reports, scores of African migrants in Ukraine are being blocked from fleeing to safety. Those trying to make border crossings are being openly denied support and transportation because of their race. This isn’t just happening to black people—Indians, Arabs and Syrians are also being discriminated against.
8. Support LGBTQIA+ people in Ukraine
LGBTQIA+ people are more vulnerable in society, and war just aggravates that. Many fear that human rights against the LGBTQIA+ community will occur if Russia takes control of Ukraine. Homophobia is embedded in Russian culture: it’s illegal to distribute material, such as leaflets, in support of LGBTQIA+ people, and in 2021 the country banned same-sex marriage too.
9. Support local Ukrainian journalism
Every day, Ukrainian journalists risk their lives to bring live updates to the rest of the world. You can support the English-language Kyiv Independent and the New Voice of Ukraine directly. There is also a GoFundMe page to support Ukrainian media.
10. Learn more about the background
If this is the first you’re hearing about the crisis in Ukraine, learn more about the background and gain a better understanding of what’s going on and how you can help. Read this Kyiv Post article, “10 popular misconceptions about Ukraine debunked”. You could also watch Netflix’s documentary Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom; and listen to this podcast by Ukraine World on how Russia uses disinformation as an instrument of war.