The speed and the scale at which the crisis in and around Ukraine has developed has been overwhelming. 

If not distraught, then so many of us are numb or disorientated that such a conflict has broken out in Europe.

How can this be happening in our interconnected world in 2022? Yet, tragically, it is. 

The next reaction for many of us is how to help. The complexity and fast-moving nature of conflict and the consequent mass exodus from Ukraine should give us pause.

What can I give, what should I give, will it make it to the people who need it most, the most vulnerable, whether they are cowering in homes or basements in Kyiv, or fleeing by train, bus, car or even on foot, such is their desperation to feel safer, to be safe?

This is why the Disasters Emergency Committee exists, to provide a quick, reliable and effective way for people here in the UK to help those who need humanitarian aid the most.

For nearly 60 years, the DEC has brought together the leading international aid agencies across the UK, alongside the main broadcasters, to provide a clear way for the public to donate and to disperse those funds effectively.

So far, the reaction has been astonishing. In just three days, the appeal has raised more than £85 million, nearly £9m of that estimated to have been raised here in Scotland.

This money is already allowing our member agencies to rapidly increase their relief operations not only in Ukraine but in neighbouring Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova where people are now arriving in their tens of thousands every day.

The expertise of our member networks, like the Red Cross, Age International and their long-established links with local charities and partners, means we are able to rapidly respond to what is needed, whether that be in or around Kyiv, or in the border towns and makeshift camps now springing up along Ukraine’s borders.

We are hearing that an overwhelming majority of elderly people in Ukraine either can’t or don’t want to leave their homes in the city. Our members will now prioritise supporting them in the best way they can.

We hope this message can get out to all those people keen to help but are currently thinking about sending what they have in their homes via local charities. 

However well intentioned, that may not be the best way to help.  What may appear to be the best response today may not be what the people caught up in the crisis might need today, or in the days and weeks to come.

If you haven’t already donated to the appeal then we would urge you to do so now.

The money you give will be shared with 13 of the 15 DEC members who will translate that goodwill into food and water supplies, shelter, blankets, and warm clothing for people who haven’t yet found a temporary home.

It will also be used to provide medical support and supplies for people who have been injured.  

In the coming days, our members will be offering trauma counselling and other types of pscyhosocial support to help people come to terms with the upheaval they’ve encountered in these terrifying past few days. 

Our members are acutely aware of reports of racism against black people and people of colour being refused the right to cross the border to safety, and in some cases access to aid. We are committed to ensuring everyone who needs help gets it, regardless of their race, religion, sexuality, or any other factor.

None of us know what will happen next in this bewildering conflict but with your continued support we will do our best to help as many families as we can – and give them hope in the difficult days to come.  

  • Please donate to the DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal at, or by texting SUPPORT to 70150 to donate £10 or by phoning 0370 60 60 900. 

Huw Owen is external relations manager for Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), Scotland