25 March 2022
A month ago, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, the European Pride Organisers Association immediately connected with its member organisations in Kharkiv and Kyiv. We asked two questions: what do you need, and how can we help?
The answer was that, apart from cash, it was too early to say what they needed. And so, that same afternoon, we transferred cash from our Solidarity Fund directly to Kharkiv Pride and Kyiv Pride to be used to keep their colleagues and communities safe, and to spend on anything that individuals or their organisations needed.
We launched an immediate fundraiser that afternoon, too, and asked all our member organisations across Europe to contribute. We agreed to act as a quasi-clearing house, collecting the funds and then transferring them, and we have guaranteed that 100% of funds raised will go to these organisations. At the time of writing, donations have topped €67,500 and we are immensely grateful to the organisations and individuals who have contributed. You can see the full list of organisational donors on this page.
The funds have been used to help some people from their communities to leave Ukraine, and we know that several are now resettled in other European countries, or on their way to being resettled. Funds have paid for food and essential living supplies, and in Kyiv they have gone towards funding a shelter where LGBTI+ people can stay, with purchases of sleeping bags, camping mats, toiletries, medicines and food. This shelter complements the work that Insight NGO have been doing across Ukraine. Many of our member organisations in neighbouring countries have been doing incredible work to support refugees arriving in their cities; you can find a list of these on this page.
EPOA is maintaining constant contact with colleagues in Ukraine and monitoring their needs to see where we can help. There is also a need for more funds. Whilst €67,500 is the most EPOA has ever raised in a fundraiser, it will only go so far in supporting LGBTI+ people in Ukraine and beyond. We will continue to push our fundraiser and do all we can to support these organisations to provide life-saving support now and in the future.
Last week ended with the terrible news that a volunteer with Kharkiv Pride and Kyiv Pride, Elya Shchemur, was killed during Putin’s bombardment of Kharkiv. It is difficult and frustrating for those of us on the outside, often feeling helpless and unable to offer real help. And our support alone can’t stop Russia and its murderous leader from dropping bombs. But with solidarity and support, we can all make a difference – and ensure that the memory of the victims of this war are not forgotten.
Two ways you can help
- Please donate at www.epoa.eu/ukraine and please share the fundraising appeal on your social media. We know many people can’t donate themselves, and so sharing the appeal is a huge help to us.
- Follow @KharkivPride and @KyivPride on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share their updates. Please be careful not to share unverified stories or information.
Image: Karollyne Hubert, Unsplash