More than £225m donated to help Ukrainians on GoFundMe since war began

A year of war has inspired thousands of fundraising efforts for the people of Ukraine.

Lily Ford
Thursday 23 February 2023 08:00 GMT
Thousands of fundraisers have been launched to help the people of Ukraine since the war began (Peter Byrne/PA)
Thousands of fundraisers have been launched to help the people of Ukraine since the war began (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

More than £225 million has been donated to Ukraine fundraisers on GoFundMe since the country was invaded last year, in one of the greatest “outpourings of generosity” ever seen on the platform.

The fundraising site confirmed to the PA news agency that more than £225,000,000 was contributed from countries around the world since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 2022, forcing millions to flee their homes.

The thousands of fundraisers on the site included large-scale projects and individual efforts including a convoy of London taxis sent to the Polish border and the supply of urgent diabetes medication to a young Ukrainian girl.

GoFundMe’s international vice-president John Coventry said: “The response we saw from around the world in the days and weeks after the invasion was remarkable.

“The outpouring of generosity to the Ukrainian people immediately after the invasion was among the biggest we’ve ever seen on GoFundMe and that has continued throughout the past 12 months.”

Jennifer Drum, from Moynalvey, Co Meath in Ireland, used the platform to raise 5,000 euros so she could reconnect with and offer a home to a man who once stayed with her family when he was just seven years old.

Yaroslav Sydoryshyn, now 32, visited Ireland as a child as part of a long-standing charitable effort that sees children from the area near the Chernobyl nuclear disaster travel to stay with local Irish families.

Mr Sydoryshyn, who had gone on to marry and have three children, sought escape from Ukraine as the war began and Ms Drum, 45, was able to find him.

“Seeing him in the airport was so nice because he hadn’t changed a bit,” Ms Drum, a hairdresser, told PA.

“Yaro is like a brother to me, we had a really good relationship when we were younger.

“And seeing him straight away, I just knew – and he had kept all the photos that (my) mum had given him.”

Ms Drum managed to find Mr Sydorshyn and his wife, Tanya, when her mother found a home address on an old letter from his parents.

After contacting people on Instagram with the same last name, she was soon connected to his wife’s profile as Mr Sydorshyn did not have any social media.

Where they were living in Ukraine had not yet been struck by Russian military action but Ms Drum and her husband, Jordan, soon got them to Poland in an effort to find a flight from there to Dublin.

Raising more than 5,000 euros – much of it from the local community – Ms Drum was able to set up the Sydorshyns and their three children, aged seven, six and two, in a mobile home behind their own house in Co Meath, where they have lived since May 2022.

“It was just amazing, the money that we did get,” she said.

“And Yaro’s brother was conscripted (into the Ukrainian army).

“So I was saying to Yaro, ‘Maybe send your money over to your family’ and he did that.

“And that was the biggest thing because it was to help the people that they were leaving behind.”

Another person who jumped at the chance to offer his home to Ukrainians was Yorkshire local Iain Butterworth, whose fundraiser was able to go towards setting up a network of around 150 Ukrainians living in and around Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

The marine lawyer, 53, said the £1,000 raised has helped purchase furniture, covered travel costs, and even helped with some dental treatment for the Ukrainian community in his area.

The community is so prominent that a Ukrainian cafe has been opened for Homes for Ukraine sponsees and their hosts to meet up or get advice, and the group regularly comes together for garden parties, church services, and other events.

“For me, it’s great to know that we’ve got this community,” Mr Butterworth told PA.

“But I think my focus has got to be on making sure that it just doesn’t disappear.

“And that they can be proud that they’re in Scarborough… It’s nice to be able to try and highlight as much as we can, but the community is here and is thriving and growing.”

Other successful GoFundMes include London cabbie Matt Westfall’s convoy of black taxis transporting Ukrainian refugees from Poland.

Mr Westfall, from Buckhurst Hill, Essex, raised more than £11,000 to get six black cabs, one car, and one van across to Poland to deliver humanitarian aid to refugee camps set up near the Ukrainian border, and transport refugees trying to reach cities across Europe.

He told PA in March 2022 that there were “no words” to describe the four-day trip.

£5,000 was also raised in June for a young Ukrainian girl, who with her family had escaped war in Ukraine.

John Rice, who is from Northampton but has lived in Slovakia for a decade, opened up his home to the family after they were forced to flee their home in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine.

Mr Rice set up a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of an insulin pump for then-10-year-old Dasha Makarenko, who has type 1 diabetes and urgently needed medication.

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