On Friday 4th March 2022, I met with Wayne David MP for Caerphilly, Hefin David MS and his office, and Cllr. Liz Aldworth (County Councillor and Trustee of The Parish Trust) to discuss potential plans for a coordinated county-wide humanitarian response to the War in Ukraine. The Leader of the Council, Philippa Marsden, was also due to be present but had given apologies due to unavoidable circumstances.
Firstly, it was the view of all present that, at this stage, the General Public should be encouraged to support the humanitarian through financial donations only. We are aware that many people wish to donate tangible goods to the people who have fled Ukraine. However, there are various challenges that have arisen in the last few days:
- The donating of tangible goods has been organised by small (sometimes unofficial) groups who do not have the necessary time or resources to cope with the overwhelming response from the general public.
- Whilst the generosity shown by the public is to be applauded, it has meant that there have been significant logistical challenges presented such as lack of storage space and vehicles to transport the items to those refugees.
- Donating tangible goods has meant in some cases that unusable items have been donated, such as clothes in poor condition, medicines and toiletries that are half-used, which has further compounded the logistical challenges of sorting the items, and discarding those items that are not able to be used.
- There are no certain guarantees that the goods will safely reach those people who they are intended for.
- The situation is very fluid, and many thousands, if not millions of Ukrainians will be further displaced in the coming weeks and months.
This has resulted in Welsh Government advising that donating tangible items comes with challenges. This reflects the official position of the Polish Government, who have specifically asked that people do not send in-kind donations. Please see their official press release here.
Therefore, we urge all members of the General Public to look to our dedicated Ukraine page on our website for a suggested list of charities where financial donations can be made. We particularly recommend the Disaster Emergency Committee, as the UK Government have already gifted £20 million towards their work, and have pledged to match-fund, pound for pound, every donation made to that particular charity.
We recognise, however, that some will prefer to give to other charities, and so we have a list of reputable organisations that will ensure the money is used wisely for helping the victims of war in Ukraine.
Please don’t be skeptical about donating financially. Charities need money in order to operate, provide necessary insurances, buy fuel, maintain administrative costs such as stationery, pay bills such as heating, lighting, and subscription fees, as well as supporting their volunteers and paying staff whose livelihood is centred on helping others. This all assists the frontline, work on the ground to help people in need.
Secondly, the General Public can be assured that we are looking at the long term possibility of welcoming refugees to our area. Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary which means that Wales has committed itself to being a place of refuge for those fleeing war and conflict.
The Parish Trust will, in the coming months, be working closely with Caerphilly County Borough Council to determine how the organisation can assist refugees who may come to live in our area. As a Charity, one of our main aims is to create and foster community, and we feel that this will be very a very important principle to offer to those who have had the very fabric of community and society destroyed before their very eyes with military might.
However, this process will take longer than we would like, due to the fact that the UK Government is under great pressure to determine what the policy will be for welcoming Ukrainian refugees. We know that the situation will worsen in the coming months, but until the scale of refugee support available within the UK has been determined at Westminster level, it will be quite difficult for Local Authorities to plan their localised response and provision for refugees. We will update stakeholders via our News Blog as this particular part of the process develops.
Finally, it was agreed by all present that we will work towards planning and hosting a County wide event such as a Prayer and Candlelight Vigil in the Borough to bring people together to reflect, show solidarity with, and pray for the people of Ukraine. More details will be announced in due course.
We all feel that this is the best plan of action we can provide at this time, and we are aware that the situation is very fluid indeed, changing on almost an hourly basis. However, we are resolved that it is important to carry out a multi-agency, united response so that we can have the greatest positive effect on those we so desperately want to help. This will take careful planning, and we trust that you, the General Public, will be ready to support us as we do this.
May I thank you for your concern for what is going on within Europe at the present time. We must continue to keep these events at the forefront of our minds, and close in our hearts. Neglecting to do so will put us in even more danger, as history so very clearly and repeatedly tells us.
REV. DEAN AARON ROBERTS | Chair of Trustees
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Rev. Dean Aaron Roberts
Rev. Dean Aaron Roberts (BA, MA, Cert.RSCM) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Parish Trust. Prior to his current role, Dean was the Chair of Trustees for the charity. Dean has worked in a ministerial role as an ordained minister. He also holds a position at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board as a Chaplain. He is the Vice Chair of Governors of a primary school, and has served on various Boards and Committees throughout his career. Dean is a member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO)