As with all war, it is ordinary citizens who bear the brunt of conflict. We have seen on our screens hundreds of thousands of people displaced, their homes destroyed, and their once peaceful country in turmoil. I am hugely proud of how we as a nation have responded to this human tragedy, nationally we’ve pledged almost £400m making us the largest bilateral donor. More impressive, is how rapidly individuals and communities have organised their own response.
Last week, I met the landlord of the Swan Inn, Digby, and his team who’ve set up ‘Sunflower Ukraine Aid’ which has collected donations from the community in Midhurst and beyond. As I write the team will be arriving at the Ukraine/Poland border to personally hand Ukrainian people aid. This humbling project is so special as it puts a face to the aid and allows the team to remind the Ukrainians they are not alone and that we stand with them. You can follow their journey on their Facebook page (@sunfloweraid), where you can also find out how to support their efforts and donate to their growing fundraising efforts, which now stands at over £60,000.
I have been touched by the outpouring of support people have shown. My inbox is full of individuals asking how they can help, including how to welcome refugees into their homes. This week we’ve launched the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme which allows individual sponsors to provide homes or a spare room rent-free for as long as they are able, with a minimum stay of six months. In the first five hours of the registration opening online, 44,000 sponsors signed up.
I am hugely grateful, to everyone who’s signed up locally – if you want to find out more information on how you can help – I have set up a ‘Stand With Ukraine’ page on my website: #StandWithUkraine | Gillian Keegan