Three weeks into the Russian attack on Ukraine: how our local communities have responded 

A drawing made by Tower Hamlets’ New City College students Pic: FE News

Three weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the show of solidarity from countries in Europe and around the world has been mirrored by the support from grassroots communities in the Eastlondonlines boroughs.

Local governments, voluntary groups and other bodies have been united in making public demonstrations of help while condemning Russia’s actions. The help has come in many forms, whether it is food and clothes parcels or offers to house refugees.

More than 3 Million people have now fled Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, the UN has reported, while UNICEF has counted more than 1.5 Million children being forced to leave their homes. 

Here is our round up of the support given by the boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, and Croydon.

Hackney Town Hall lit in blue and yellow with councillors uniting in solidarity for Ukraine 

Hackney politicians have sent a united message to express solidarity to those hit by the conflict. 

The Town Hall was lit in blue and yellow on March 2, and Mayor Philip Glanville and councillors condemned the Russian aggression.

Glanville, together with Hoxton West Councillor Carole Williams also wrote a letter to the Home and Foreign Secretaries to renew their commitment in sheltering refugees despite the “housing challenges” the borough is facing. 

Meanwhile, the council has been promoting the sale of blue and yellow ribbons, to raise funds for the Red Cross appeal.

Ukrainian flag coloured ribbons sold by Hackney Council to rise funds for the emergency Pic: Mayor of Hackney
Hackney Council employees wearing the ribbons Pic: Mayor of Hackney

Salvation Army’s vigil for Ukraine

People light candles in the shape of the international peace sign. Pic: Giannino Arrigoni

Hackney residents, together with community and faith leaders united in a vigil in support of Ukraine on March 3 when members of the Salvation Army have held a candlelit event.

Attendees were asked to support the Ukrainian people by making donations to the local charity E5 Baby Bank. 

Read the full story here.

Local Pub organises auction to rise funds in support of Ukrainian people 

A Hackney public house has held a quiz night to rise funds in support of Ukraine. 

The money collected with the event, which was organised by the Scolt Head pub on March 14, will go in support of the Ukrainian people via the British red Cross and through a fund to hospitals in Ukraine. 

The crowdfunding page states that the donations go directly in support of three health centres in the city of Dnipro, south-east Ukraine, of which “two hospitals are for civilians, one is for injured military personnel”. 

Hackney charity E5 Baby Bank for Ukraine 

The Hackney based charity E5 Baby Bank has been appealing to the community for donations of specific primary necessity goods which are most needed to support the humanitarian crisis. 

Lewisham’s Mayor protests to Home Secretary Priti Patel. 

On March 1, the Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan and Lewisham Councillor Kevin Bonavia wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel to express the will and commitment of the borough in supporting and accommodating Ukrainian refugees.  

The letter stressed that Lewisham had declared itself a “Borough of Sanctuary” and that it would to increase the humanitarian effort and work to face the impending refugee crisis.  And it called on the Government to demonstrate its own proposals for resettlement of refugees. Earlier this week the Government announced an offer of £350 a month to anyone who could house refugees. 

See the letter to the Home Office: 

Local Polish charity steps up donation efforts raising over £74K. 

A Land Rover Defender delivering aid at the border with Lewisham Polish Centre’s sticker Pic: Lewisham Polish Centre

Lewisham Polish Centre (LPC House) has been leading the way in the borough, since day one of the invasion, in coordinating humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian cause. 

Lewisham Council and Lewisham MP Vicky Foxcroft have also been referring people’s donations to the centre.

The charity has also opened a fund donations channel which has collected over £74K in a few weeks.

Polish, Ukrainian and UK flag outside LPC House Pic: LPC House

LPC House, facing an exponential increase of goods being sent to them, has since started collecting donations every day and are currently in urgent need of volunteering workforce, drivers and vans to help the centre dispatch the huge amount of parcels. 

Lewisham Council has been actively supporting the charity by offering storage space at the council’s premises, as also by helping loading and unloading supplies.

Meanwhile, head of the charity Agnieszka Lokaj has spoken out about issues on the border where vans directed to Poland have been put on hold due to complex post-Brexit paperwork. 

The situation has seen goods being held in Dover for days, with the result of aid being slowed down, and LPC House having to stop the flux of donations to the centre.

Read the story about Lewisham Polish Centre here.

Goldsmiths Department of Law calls for Putin’s prosecution for war crimes

Almost 90 between lawyers and academics have backed a letter organised by Goldsmiths, University of London calling for Vladimir Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes.

The letter, initiated by the Department of Law at Goldsmiths in conjunction with several UK academics, NGOs, and legal professionals, is an exhortation to “strengthen international law”. 

It also appeals to the United Nations’ Security Council to create a special tribunal in a pursue to trial Vladimir Putin for the war crimes of Genocide and the infringement of Human Rights. 

Read the full story here.

Council’s solidarity and condemnation of Putin onslaught in letter to the Ukrainian ambassy 

Tower Hamlets council has written to the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK expressing its solidarity with the people of Ukraine. 

The text, signed on a cross-party basis by the Mayor John Biggs and all political groups in Tower Hamlets and addressed to Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Pristaiko, highlights the several examples of support shown by the community while also remarking the council’s unity in directly condemning “Putin’s onslaught”. 

“The Ukrainian people continue to show incredible courage, dignity and resilience in the face of Putin’s invasion” – the letter reads. 

“Tower Hamlets stands with Ukraine, and we will offer what support we can to your country and its people during these dark weeks and months”. 

The council is not collecting donations directly but is referring offers of help to other bodies:

The Red Cross – supporting the humanitarian crisis by providing food, water, first aid, clothes and shelter. 

Unicef – specialising in bringing aid to Ukrainian children. 

The UN refugee agency – working to create humanitarian corridors to help civilians fleeing the warzone. 

Care International – providing food, water and more to the Ukrainian people. 

The Ukrainian Ambassy – which created a special fund to help its people. 

https://twitter.com/MayorJohnBiggs/status/1499399189834260486

New City College Tower Hamlets’ students for Ukraine 

Students from New City College Tower Hamlets, as part of their ICT course, have attended a class where they discussed the tragic situation with the contribute of a student of Ukrainian nationality. 

They then wrote and drew messages of solidarity, and they also made a video with the class saying “Slava Ukraini” which means “Glory to Ukraine”. 

A drawing made by Tower Hamlets’ New City College students Pic: FE News

The video was then sent to the student’s family members and to people in Ukraine. 

Croydon 

Ukrainian flag outside Croydon Town Hall Pic: Croydon Council

Council Leader expresses horror on behalf of residents. 

Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of Croydon Council has issued a statement on the council website condeming the ‘unprovoked’ attack on Ukraine.

“Everyone in Croydon will share my horror and despair at the scenes from Ukraine and the sustained and unprovoked attacks we are witnessing on innocent citizens”, Ali wrote. 

She also invites people to refer to Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) by the British Red Cross for donations. 

The council, in its webpage, has also opened a channel with useful links for information and support of the Ukrainian people and for anyone who wants to help the cause.

Academy chain chief to personally deliver supplies to Ukrainian/Polish border

The chief executive of an academy schools chain, which runs 13 schools, four of which are Croydon based, will stage a mission to the Polish-Ukrainian border later this month to bring aid to refugees in need.

Lee Mason-Ellis, CEO of the The Pioneer Academy (TPA) has started a crowdfunding page with the aim of gathering much needed supplies for those suffering from the conflict.

He has also pledged to “transport some of the displaced people to wherever they need to go en route back to the UK”.

The funds will be used to buy goods such as first aid equipment, sanitary items, emergency blankets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby-wipes and flashlights while the remaining amount will go to the UNICEF Ukraine Emergency fund.

Mason-Ellis says: “I believe that children learn a huge amount  from watching what others do.  I feel a responsibility to lead by example and do what I can to help those who are suffering”.

The Pioneer Academy CEO Lee Mason-Ellis Pic: TPA

“I hope that by taking action, some of the sadness children in our schools have been feeling can be replaced by a positive and determined outlook, as they will know that we can all make a difference”, he added.

The donation page has now reached almost £9k, and it will be open until April 10.

Croydon MP announcement of Ukrainian refugees housing scheme

Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, released a video on Twitter where she gives a preview of the new “Homes for Ukrainians” scheme.

The Tweet, posted on March 14, instructs people who wants to support the refugee crisis, to visit the scheme’s uk.gov page where they can express their interest while in the wait of the program’s deatils to be released.

Jones said in the video: “I know a lot of people in Croydon have been asking how they can help and wheather they can sponsor an individual or indeed a family to come and stay in their home”.

“I’ve just been talking to the Leader of the Council Hamida Ali about how we’ll make sure the support and the infrastructure is there for families and the Government is going to provide some funding for that, but we don’t know the details yet”.

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