BEARR’s Emergency Appeal: a year on since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine

Almost a year ago, and after 30 years working in relative peace, BEARR responded to the news of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine by asking its network of partners in Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova whether there was anything we could do to extend our support. Having previously worked with these organisations through our Small Grants Scheme, many responded to say they had rapidly shifted their activities to provide humanitarian aid: distributing food, medicine and clothing to refugees, the elderly, people with disabilities, women and children, and other vulnerable groups in need of urgent assistance.

We knew we could send financial support to these organisations quickly, and on 27 February 2022 we launched an Emergency Appeal, with a steadfast commitment to send 100% of donations to our partners.  Within 24 hours we had raised more than £10,000. As more donations came in, within a week BEARR had sent £30,000 to several regions of Ukraine.

As of February 2023, we are pleased to report that we have raised £430,000, including pledged donations from grant-giving foundations that extend to 2025. We have now sent more than £368,000 to our partners, some of whom we did not know a year ago but have been recommended by our trusted contacts on the ground. This includes local voluntary organisations that have banded together in response to the invasion last year.

Much of our work has been guided by this impressive rallying of civil society, resulting in the theme of BEARR’s 2022 Annual Conference “War in Ukraine: The Civil Society Response”. Speaking at Chatham House last week, BEARR Trustee Janet Gunn cited reports that at least 82% of Ukrainians are either volunteering or donating. Watch the full video here.

Despite these ongoing efforts of local volunteers across Ukraine, a Humanitarian Outcomes report from May last year showed that just 0.0003% of humanitarian contributions had been allocated to local CSOs. BEARR’s partners may not be working on the scale of the global aid agencies, but they are still reaching thousands of vulnerable people without access to international aid.

BEARR’s support for its partners also extends beyond financial assistance. We have always been committed to supporting the growth of civil society in the region by providing information sharing and networking services. In the context of our work in Ukraine, we have regularly alerted and encouraged our partners to submit applications for various other grant competitions. We were delighted to hear that five of our partners were successful in their applications to the Crown Agents last year. One partner wrote to us: 

“We have good news. From Crown Agents, under the Ukrainian Civil Society Organization Support Program (UA Support CSO), we were provided with 50% of the funding for our project. On behalf of our entire friendly team, I want to thank you for your help and support in this matter. Thanks to your support, with this grant we are starting to purchase equipment that is very necessary for the work of our team.”

Yet the material needs of our partners have not subsided. A winter of constant bombardment in cities like Dnipro, Zaporozhizhiya, Kherson and Kharkiv and direct attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure has left millions without heating, water or electricity. Read our latest website story here to see how BEARR’s funds have been helping people to survive the winter: from warm clothes and generators, to emotional support and therapy for children.

In the new year, there have been intensified forecasts of renewed Russian offensives. A partner in Kharkiv messaged us last week:

“Please help us with the implementation of an urgent joint project – a project for the evacuation of civilians from the zone of the Russian offensive. We will take the residents to places of temporary residence of refugees, provide them with basic sets of food and clothing. Dozens of people’s lives literally depend on the implementation of the project.” 

In light of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, we understand that many of our loyal and generous supporters will want to donate to the appeals that have been launched to help people in the areas affected. We encourage all such generosity, and accept that the flow of funds for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine may slow for a while. We hope, however, that our supporters won’t forget about Ukraine’s continuing agony, and will support us again when they are able to do so. 

Our partners regularly extend their heartfelt thanks to our donors in their reports, and our support for them will continue for as long as we have the means to do so. Excluding future pledged donations, as of today we have sent 93% of all funds received to our partners. Donations to our appeal reach our partners quickly, and we are still responding to daily requests for aid.

We would be incredibly grateful if you continued to support and share our campaign where you can. Every penny donated will be passed on to our partners to purchase emergency supplies for vulnerable and displaced people in Ukraine, or who are now refugees in Moldova.

We thank you for any contribution you are able to make, whether it be a share on social media or a word-of-mouth recommendation to friends.

A timeline of BEARR’s response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine

Where BEARR’s Emergency Appeal funds have reached since February 2022

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