Leeds City Council has recently announced details of a major fundraising appeal to help those facing upheaval and heartbreak following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Leeds Together For Ukraine appeal is up-and-running now – and the council will be kickstarting the fundraising with a donation of £50,000.
The money raised will be used to provide accommodation support and other forms of assistance – in partnership with a range of refugee charities and other third sector organisations – to Ukrainian refugees as they build new lives in Leeds after fleeing the fighting in their homeland.
It will also be used to further develop local support systems to ensure Leeds remains a welcoming and compassionate city for all migrants in the long term.
Initiated by the council with the aim of creating a focal point for people across the city keen to do their bit to help the displaced and the desperate, the appeal is being administered by Leeds Community Foundation.
The appeal’s launch has been confirmed following a meeting on Friday between senior councillors, council officers, Migration Yorkshire and a delegation from the Leeds branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.
Those present at the meeting included the leader of the council, Councillor James Lewis, and council chief executive Tom Riordan.
They made it clear that Leeds is determined to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine in their hour of need, just as it has with refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and many other parts of the world in recent years.
Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The events we have seen unfolding in Ukraine have been truly shocking. Innocent people are suffering and families are being torn apart by senseless actions that we wholeheartedly condemn.
“It was an honour to meet with the delegation from the Leeds branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain and speak to them about the impact that the crisis is having, not just on Ukraine itself but also on the Ukrainian community here in Leeds.
“Leeds has a long and proud history of helping those in need and, as a council, we will be working closely with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain and Migration Yorkshire to extend our hand of friendship once again.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of Leeds Community Foundation. The appeal’s launch gives us all a meaningful way to stay united and stand up for others in the face of appalling tragedy.”
Olga Callaghan, chair of the Leeds branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said: “We would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in launching this appeal.
“We are so grateful for all the support Ukraine has received and continues to receive – I always knew people in Leeds and the rest of the UK were generous, but the scale of the response has been incredible to see.
“The donations of clothing and household items we have had to date are greatly appreciated, but at the current point in time – when so much remains uncertain about what is happening and where people are going to end up – it is financial help that is required, and hopefully the appeal can play a part in meeting that need.”
The council showed its backing for Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the invasion by lighting up Leeds Civic Hall in the yellow and blue colours of the country’s flag.
Leeds has also added its name to a declaration issued by the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities programme which calls on communities around the world to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and remain united for peace.
The council is supportive of the Government’s Ukraine Family Scheme – which allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK – and its Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine, which allows sponsors, such as communities or local authorities, to take in people with no ties to the UK.
Further information on these schemes and how they will work in practice in cities such as Leeds is now being sought.
For details on the work being done by a whole range of organisations to help those affected by the crisis, visit the Migration Yorkshire website.
More than £100m has already been donated to a UK-wide Ukraine humanitarian appeal launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which includes charities such as the British Red Cross, ActionAid and Save The Children.
DEC charities and their local partners are currently on the ground in Ukraine and neighbouring countries working to meet the immediate needs of refugees with food, water, medical assistance, protection and trauma care.
More than two million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion and many others have been displaced inside the country.
Donations can be made via www.justgiving.com/campaign/LeedsTogetherForUkraine.