Ukraine-Russia conflict: Edinburgh locals open their hearts to the Ukranian people by offering cash and refuge

Organisers of appeals for the people of Ukraine say they have overwhelmed as the people of Edinburgh race to show their support.

By Debbie Clarke
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 6:14 pm

The Edinburgh branch of the Association of Ukranians in Great Britain said it had been unundated with offers of support and help, including city residents ready to welcome Ukranian refugees who have to flee their home country following the Russian invasion.

Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk, branch treasurer, said they have been stunned by the generosity of on Edinburgh, which is twinned with the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

It comes after a community meeting was held in the Ukranian Catholic Church in Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh yesterday afternoon which saw the branch working with church members and locals to draw up a plan to set up a main hub in the city where people can drop-off vital aid donations of clothing, blankets and non-perishable food which can then be transported to those who need it in Ukraine.

Members of The Edinburgh branch of the Association of Ukranians in Great Britain which has been inundated with offers of help from people in Edinburgh. Pictured from left: Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk (treasurer), Linda Allison (chairman) and Senia Urquhart (events co-ordinator).

She said: “We have had people offering their homes, money and one elderly lady, whose husband had died, even offered her family inheritance which she wanted to be used to help those who need it most.

"It has been so heart-warming the offers we have had from people.

"Some have even offered to drive over there to bring people back as well as taking aid over and locals offering their homes as people will be in desperation when they come over.”

She continued: "The support from the wider community has been incredible. Until now it has just been financial help on offer through the main GoFundMe page but we are planning to open the Ukranian Community Centre in Royal Terrace by the end of this coming week as a main donation point for vital aid, as well as opening smaller hubs, because they will need lots of things such as non-perishable food, clothing (in good condition) and blankets.

Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk, treasurer of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (Edinburgh branch),  said they have been overwhelmed by the generosity of locals who are wanting to do something to help those caught up in the conflict.

"Once we know the space is ready and we have somewhere to store everything, we will then publicise it and link in to other communities.”

Hannah said once the logistics have been worked out she will update the Edinburgh Ukranian Club Facebook page to let people know where and when they can hand in donations.

She added that the national Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal GoFundMe page, set up by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), has now raised an incredible £590,685 after it was established with an initial target of raising £80,000. It will help fund medical supplies and relief for those in the Ukraine.

She added: “The generosity of people in Scotland and Britain as a whole who have contributed to the GoFundMe page has just been incredible – it has been a collective effort. It will keep going until the last person is helped and this is all over.”

There are plans being drawn up to open the Ukranian Community Centre in Royal Terrace by the end of this coming week as a main donation point for vital aid, as well as opening smaller hubs where people can hand in non-perishable food, clothing (in good condition) and blankets.

Meanwhile, Hibs supporter groups have joined forces in a bid to raise funds for orphans affected by Russia’s invasion.

The Easter Road side was paired with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the 2005-6 Uefa Cup and a number of fans organised a charity collection for local orphans when they travelled to the away leg of the tie.

What began as a one-off donation was eventually turned into a formal charitable arrangement that has been running ever since, with donations helping to provide clothing, medical equipment, and repairs to the orphanage building.

Events in Ukraine in the last week or so have heightened the need for additional support in the city of Dnipro and the Hanlon Stevenson Foundation (HSF) has pledged to hand over proceeds from the Sauzée 4 Prize Draw, held in conjunction with the return to Edinburgh of Hibs legend Franck Sauzée at the charity’s gala dinner later this year.

Fans who donate £10 to the charity’s JustGiving page are in with a chance of winning one of four prizes, including a signed Sauzée Hibs shirt, and VIP tickets to the gala dinner in April.

HSF has been joined by Hibernian Supporters, Hibs,net, HibeesBounce,com, The Hibs Club, the Hibernian Former Players Association, and a number of fan groups and media including Hibernian Retro, Longbangers, Down the Slope, the East Stand, Hibs Talk, and We Are Hibs.

Graeme Cadger, chairman of the Hanlon Stevenson Foundation, said: “This was a no-brainer for everyone at HSF and, clearly, the wider online Hibernian community.

“I think we’re all in awe of the work done by Stevie and his team since 2005 and we want to help in any way we can.

“I’ve seen a lot of online discussion from supporters discussing different ways to make a donation and hopefully this provides a central solution.”

Stevie Carr, chairman of Dnipro Kids, said: “It goes without saying that it has been a distressing, overwhelming few days. More than ever, these people need our help.

“Dnipro Kids is grateful to the Hanlon Stevenson Foundation for reaching out, and to the forums, podcasts and social media accounts lending their support.”

Yesterday saw campaigners supporting Ukraine continue to be defiant in Edinburgh as thousands marched through the capital’s streets to condemn Russia.

Sounds of beating drums and bells rang out through the city as demonstrators headed from the Russian consulate to the Scottish Parliament building chanting “Putin murderer” and “hands off Ukraine” on Sunday.

Slava Yevminova, from Ukraine, attended the demonstration despite having not slept properly for three days, lying in wait for messages from friends and relatives as her home country is blighted by shelling and gunfire.

The 41-year-old, who runs her own business in Edinburgh, said her home city of Kharkiv has become “hell” since war broke out.

“Kharkiv is today hell on earth,” the 41-year-old said, fighting back tears.

“It’s not the beautiful city I remember and that I was born in.

“Some of my friends are hiding in cellars, some are trying to flee the city and some they have taken arms in their hands and they are protecting their home.”

Speaking about the demonstration, Ms Yevminova said: “I am really grateful for all the support.

“I have taken videos and pictures that I will send back to Ukraine who are now fighting Russian aggression.

“It means a lot of to them.”