UCL Students Produce a Database of Resources on How to Support Ukraine
By qtnvhle, on 11 August 2022
By Nicholas Chiu
BSc Politics and International Relations
The dramatic Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has led to a plethora of humanitarian appeals and databases to catalogue these appeals, leading, paradoxically, to anxiety among ordinary people on how to navigate this information to help Ukraine. Perhaps you are a Ukrainian citizen, or have friends or family living there. Or you may be a concerned citizen whose horizons extend beyond Britain’s borders. You might be unsure of how to help Ukrainians in their time of need. If you were to probe Google for answers, you might discover websites such as WRAL’s list of charitable organizations to support, Charity Watch’s Top-Rated Charities Providing Aid In Ukraine or CNBC’s list of the top-rated charities to help the Ukraine relief effort. Whilst useful and concise in themselves, such lists only provide cursory summaries, lacking breadth and detail. To bridge the information gap and present the information in a more directly accessible way, a team of UCL undergraduate students, myself included, have created an online database that provides critical evidence on charities aiding Ukraine (such as Charity Navigator ratings, methods of donating and past controversies), media sources and journalists covering the war (such as sources of revenue and ownership) and circulating myths.
My own involvement with this database began on the fateful morning of the 24th of February, when I saw the news that Russian troops had crossed the border into Ukraine. Like many of my peers, I was under the myopic assumption that Europe could not, once again, see a conflict involving a major power break out within its borders, at least not within the decade. To us students of international relations, Putin’s flexing of military muscle in 2021 had been no more than posturing for diplomatic concessions. We were gravely mistaken. We woke to the realisation that one man had seized the imperium by thwarting his country’s nascent democratic endeavours and appointing himself dictator perpetuo: dictator for life. His Soviet-red-tinted glasses only filtered through visions of a Ukraine that had once existed under Communist hegemony as a glorious breadbasket of the Soviet Union under Russian control, but it failed to admit the grey and dismal spectres of Ukrainians starving in the man-made Great Famine of 1932-1933 and other divisive narratives that had entrenched Ukraine’s desire for freedom and independence. Putin knew no world order than the one he grew up in, and saw no alternative than to throw a generation of young Russian and Ukrainian soldiers into the meat grinder, as well as anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire, in an effort to erase Ukrainian statehood.
After days of constantly refreshing news apps and attending solidarity protests on Downing Street, three groups of people would not leave my mind: the Ukrainian soldiers fighting against the Russian army, the Ukrainian civilians caught in a warzone, and the Ukrainian refugees spilling out across the country’s borders. I was plagued by the lingering, reverberating thought that I was not doing enough as an individual to contest this injustice. Therefore, I took the opportunity to materialise my sentiments into action. I joined Students for Ukraine, a project run by Professor Brad Blitz, the Head of the Department of Education, Practice and Society, where I led a team of 7 Politics and International Relations and Philosophy, Politics and Economics students to research pathways for assistance (Emilijia, Maria, Jia Yue, Wynsey, Ingrid and Laurynas).
Together, we created a database congregating data and information on charities, media sources, individual journalists and war myths, conveniently assembled into one Google Sheet. We evaluated the transparency and trustworthiness of 32 charities (as well as 46 media sources and journalists), utilising data from Charity Navigator, a prominent charity assessor, in addition to analysing the charities’ own annual financial statements. The database includes references and all information was cross-checked. Collating the results of our research, we created a leaflet to be posted around campus that appealingly visualised key facts on our top 10 recommended charities supporting Ukraine.
The war is far from over. Ukraine needs our help now. Eventually, when the conflict subsides, Ukraine will yet need our support to rebuild and rehabilitate. It is never too late to donate, and if you are unsure or uncertain where your contribution goes, our database and leaflet are here to assist you.