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How to best support families in Ukraine

Over the past week we have all watched with horror as events in Ukraine continue to unfold via our TV, phone, and computer screens.

At such a terrible time, everybody is horrified by what is happening and wants to do whatever they can to help families who have left everything behind.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen many Facebook posts from people in my own well-meaning community asking where they can donate their unwanted baby grows, blankets and winter coats. It may not feel like it, but giving cash is much more effective.

Donating items can be costly, complicated and in some cases dangerous. Here’s why:

It’s not economical

Buying stuff from your local shop to send overseas is far more expensive than a large local purchase where people in need are based. Locally made, locally sourced goods offer a cheaper recognisable product for individuals (rather than a UK product from a brand which might be unknown to the person receiving it.)

It’s not ecological

The carbon footprint of physically driving a high volume of donated items across Europe has logistical challenges and is not the most eco-friendly approach.

Let the individual have the choice

At Save the Children we know that giving money to people affected by conflict and displacement works. It gives the individual the choice to decide what they need to buy for their family. We call them ‘multi-purpose cash transfers.’ It also gives families freedom and power in a situation that has otherwise stripped them of this.

It doesn’t help local markets and economies

Buying local products local staff, and local taxes are being paid - whether that’s a local charity buying locally or an individual buying goods themselves. All good things for countries with a sudden influx of people!

Traffic jams and bottle necks

In emergencies it can be extremely challenging to get the right stuff to the right people in the right place. Think of warehouses full of mismatched shoes and out of date food, with focus of agencies faced with the mammoth task of ‘sorting’ rather than devoting time to other critical functions, such as setting up sanitation facilities. As people are still on the move there are currently no refugee camps so there isn’t a central place for distributions.

Baby formula can be dangerous

Not having a clean reliable place to mix the formula can lead to complications. When infant formula is donated during emergencies, we tend to see a direct correlation between these donations and babies falling sick. Even in high-income settings, emergencies significantly change the situation and make it difficult for parents to hygienically use infant formula. Formula-fed babies and their parents therefore require a comprehensive package of skilled support and supplies.

So, what can I do?

Give your donations to a charity shop

Save the Children has shops across the UK alongside others like the Red Cross and Oxfam. Donating items to shops help raise vital funds. The money raised from selling these items has more value than the item being shipped thousands of miles across Europe.

Give your money

Alongside the Disasters Emergency Committee, Save the Children has launched an urgent appeal to help people fleeing conflict in Ukraine. In Ukraine and neighbouring countries, we’re distributing warm clothes and blankets as temperatures plunge below freezing, providing cash and vouchers to help families pay for food, accommodation and medicines and offering vital mental health and education support to children whose lives have been torn apart.

Give your voice

Sign and share our new petition to ask the UK Government to stand with Ukraine’s children.

UPDATE, March 10th 2022  - If you'd still like to give items to help children in Ukraine, you can purchase critically-needed items for donation from our global partnership with Amazon.

Save the Children is collaborating with Amazon in a global partnership across several countries to help support the humanitarian response for the conflict in Ukraine. This is a combination of cash donation, and pro-bono services to enable large scale fulfilment of critically needed items identified by Save the Children’s response team. In addition Amazon is providing warehousing and logistical support where it is most needed. 

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