BEARR stands for ‘British Emergency Action in Russia and the Republics’, reflecting its original purpose to deliver humanitarian aid when it was set up informally in 1991, by a group of British women in Moscow. They wanted to help to mitigate the catastrophic effects on health and welfare of the collapse of the USSR and the communist system. The group initially became involved in transporting lorry-loads of medical and other supplies as relief to hard-hit citizens.
As this emergency need lessened, BEARR was set up more formally as a Trust and started to support the non-governmental organisations which were beginning to be established in the successor countries. It offered training and cooperation with relevant NGOs in the UK, and ran various projects funded by Western governmental and charitable organisations.
Over the next few years BEARR, at the request of its supporters, focused on its role as a networking organisation to facilitate links between the many small charities set up in the UK and elsewhere and the charitable and non-governmental sector in these countries.