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Reflecting on one year of supporting Ukrainians

With the generous support of our community, WONDER has been helping Ukrainian refugees since the first day of the war. One year later, we continue to offer long-term support to help Ukrainian families rebuild their lives.

As of February 2023, over 8 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the war, which began one year ago. Their lives have been made precarious not only from violent conflict and migration, but also due to the many challenges they face in their new lives in their host countries, such as language skills and finding employment.

Since February 2022, WONDER has worked with its partners to roll out emergency aid and long-term support for Ukrainian families migrating to Poland and the United Kingdom.

Providing emergency aid to Ukrainians 

In the first few months, we worked alongside our Polish partner organisation Pontes to provide shelter, essential items such as clothing, and emotional support for hundreds of Ukrainian families. Beginning in February, WONDER sent eight large lorries carrying emergency supplies from the United Kingdom to Poland, which supported over 100,000 refugees in Poland and 20,000 refugees on the Ukrainian border. 

Pontes also coordinated the onward journeys of Ukrainian refugees, which helped 2,000 women and children relocate to Spain and Italy. 

Developing long-term support for Ukrainians in Poland

WONDER and Pontes have since provided ongoing support to help Ukrainian refugees settle in their host countries. In the past year, we have supported 1,350 Ukrainian families in 5 Polish cities. We have provided 220 women with the necessary language skills and employment information to find jobs, and we have supported 118 children in continuing their education in Poland and through online connections to Ukrainian schools. Ten of the women we have supported have either enrolled or begun their university education, as a result of our mentoring support.

Since March 2022, Pontes has provided bi-weekly Polish language classes, lectures, workshops, and excursions to support Ukrainian families in their new lives in Poland. They have also implemented cultural activities and 1-2-1 mentoring to help families ease into Polish society.

Pontes has also provided support and spaces for refugees to discuss and recover from the trauma that they have experienced throughout the violent conflict and from being separated from family members. They have supported 140 women and girls with mental health and psychological support since they arrived in Poland. They have also offered 5 week-long summer camps to families, including fun activities and psychosocial support workshops.

Supporting Ukrainians in the UK

In the United Kingdom, WONDER organised a conference as part of our Being and Belonging project, alongside our partners: Sursum in Slovenia, PONTES in Poland, Canfranc in Spain and KIB in Latvia. In discussion groups, our volunteers and members explored how we can listen to the needs of Ukrainian refugees and how we can volunteer effectively. 

We have also worked with our UK partner Baytree Centre to support Ukrainian women who have migrated to the UK – the women have participated in Baytree’s “Into School” programme which has provided them with English language support and guidance on the British school system.

As we move into the second year of helping Ukrainian refugees, we would like to thank all those who have supported us in this work. We are very grateful for the generosity and commitment of our our community, who are helping us meet the needs of Ukrainian families.

Author: Dowon Kim