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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 2°C Svitlana Kopyl looking at flowers and cards hanging the rails supporting the people of Ukraine in their war against the Russian invasion outside the Ukraine embassy in Dublin last month.

Q&A: From pledging rooms to giving cash - how you can help Ukrainian refugees in Ireland

The government has said as many as 40,000 people may arrive in Ireland by the end of April.

MORE THAN 12,000 Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed to Ireland since the Russian invasion began just over four weeks ago.

The government here has made a number of arrangements to support those fleeing Ukraine, including lifting visa requirements and providing social welfare supports.

The government is also housing those arriving into the country in hotels temporarily until longer-term accommodation is available to them.

As part of our ongoing series of Q&A articles covering Russia’s war on Ukraine, we’re answering some of the dozens of reader questions sent to us asking how people can help house or otherwise help some of the thousands of refugees arriving in Ireland. 

For those seeking to offer help to Ukrainian refugees, there are a number of things people can do:

Can I offer a place to stay?

Yes. The Irish Red Cross is running the official register of accommodation offers for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland.

There are two options:

  • Pledge a vacant property
  • Pledge a spare room in your own home

There have been 22,657 pledges of accommodation – shared and unshared – offered through this Irish Red Cross portal to date.

Of this, 4,896 pledges relate to vacant properties. The Defence Forces, who have been tasked to assist in the accommodation process, have already made contact in respect of 1,112 vacant properties to arrange inspections.

Vacant properties can be apartments or houses, the Red Cross says. They should have at least one bedroom and can be offered by private landlords, people with second homes, businesses, letting agents, charities and community groups.

Those offering the property should be prepared to make a 12-month commitment. Properties must be in reasonable condition. A tenancy agreement will be entered into as part of the process.

For shared properties, at least one single room must be available, again for a minimum of 12 months. 

Shared properties must include direct access to cook facilities and ideally a private bathroom. The spare room should be private and of a reasonable size. 

All properties, whether vacant or with a spare room available, must be close to public transport and within a short commute to villages/towns/cities. 

As part of the process an assessment of the property will take place. In cases involving Ukrainian families with children, or those considered to be vulnerable persons, garda vetting of the host family (members aged over 16) will be done by the Garda National Vetting Bureau. This process is expected to take around seven days. 

Assessments of vacant properties are currently being prioritised, but the Red Cross expects them to move on to properties with spare rooms in two to three weeks.

A spokesperson for the charity said they had been “overwhelmed by the response of Irish people and really grateful to them” for their offers of homes for those fleeing Ukraine.

They asked that people remain patient as they work through the properties, stating that they will start contacting people who offered spare rooms over the next few weeks.

Red Cross caseworkers will be in regular contact with hosts to support them and the newly arrived person/family from Ukraine. 

A group of mental health professionals has also compiled a guide for those who will be in contact with refugees fleeing the war.

The Psychological Fist Aid for Refugee Care document offers practical advice on how to support those who have been through the trauma of war and having to leave their homes and country. 

Tips include: 

  • Facilitate familiar routines such a sleeping, eating and self care;
  • Listen, without pressuring people to talk;
  • Don’t encourage the re-telling or traumatic events if they’re not volunteered;
  • Ensure privacy;
  • If there are children involved, do not play 24-hour news channel coverage of the conflict;
  • Help children and adolescents to engage in recreation and establish daily routines. 

Are there ways I could support those trying to find jobs?

If you’re not in a position to offer accommodation to those arriving, there are other supports you could provide, particularly when it comes to helping newly arrived Ukrainians who are seeking work.

The organisation Going Far offers a range of programmes, from mentoring to seminars and workshops for migrants. If you are an established professional working in Ireland, you can volunteer for their mentoring programme.

The organisation has a simplified version of its programme specifically to support those displaced by the war in Ukraine. Volunteers will be expected to meet with their mentee once a week for one hour over a period of one month.

They’ll be expected to provide support with:

  • CV optimisation/LinkedIn profile
  • Practicing for job interviews
  • Expanding their professional network

You’ll find the application form here.

Could I help people with their English?

The 16 Education and Training Boards around the country offer English language skills courses for adults.

The Department of Further and Higher Education said in response to a query from The Journal that the ETB will identify appropriate language and additional learning supports to support Ukrainians wishing to develop their English.

Ukrainians wishing to improve their English can contact a local ETB for an assessment of their competency across reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. This service is free and contact details for Ukrainians wishing to access it will be posted shortly on the Government website.

The City of Dublin ETB told The Journal that there are plans to provide an increased level of English language classes for adults from April to meet the needs of newly-arrived Ukrainians. The CDETB is currently recruiting additional tutors to teach basic English language/literacy courses in community environments across the city. 

The Department of Higher Further and Higher Education said it will monitor the need for language skills courses in light of the number of Ukrainians arriving in Ireland and will make arrangements for additional measures if necessary. 

There is currently no official system for volunteering your time if you have teaching experience or want to help in a more informal way with language learning. However the Department of Rural and Community Development is working to establish local community action groups to support Ukrainians arriving in Ireland. 

The Department of Further and Higher Education will feed into this process, including English language supports, so there may be opportunities for volunteering in this way further down the line.

How can businesses help?

A new website has been set up as a portal for businesses to offer Ukrainian refugees in Ireland free and discounted goods and services. – Privyit means ‘hello’ in Ukrainian – was set up by volunteers who wanted to help Ukrainian refugees. The site says it doesn’t receive any money from people or companies availing of it.

Some of the services listed on the site include free childcare places, CV support, hot desking space, cups or coffee and haircuts.

What if I can’t do any of these things?

Although Ukrainians arriving in Ireland will need a lot of support, those living in the besieged country and the millions fleeing over the borders still need help. 

Charities have repeatedly encouraged people who want to support Ukraine to donate money instead of physical items.

There are a lot of ways to donate to help refugees who have left Ukraine.

An Irish Red Cross spokesperson said: “Money is the best way to support the people out there. A lot of what goes out there in trucks from organised collections ends up in landfill.”

He said organisations like the Red Cross can source essential items such as nappies, hygiene kits and clothing on location “at a much better price”.

Media and communications manager for Unicef Ireland Danny Smits said the organisation has seen a “huge upsurge in donations” since the invasion.

“In an emergency like this, it’s about getting the critical supplies, medical supplies and vaccines and different kinds of items, sanitation services, and water supplies into the hands of families and children as fast as possible,” he said.

The charity has so far sent 85 trucks with 800 tonnes of emergency supplies from a humanitarian warehouse in Denmark to Ukraine.

Donations also go towards maintaining areas called ‘blue dots’ set up in countries bordering Ukraine for refugees.

“These are safe spaces where families can go to get more information, to register for different services, get access to counselling and some of the local services in their host countries,” Smits said.

“These blue dots are acting as safe havens and giving children, on many occasions, their first opportunity to relax and a safe space where they can play.”

The organisation also particularly watches out for children crossing the border from Ukraine alone to protect them from trafficking.

Unicef Ireland’s Ukraine appeal has so far raised over €9.5 million in donations from people and companies across the country.

On the ground in Ukraine, Red Cross workers and volunteers are helping to maintain Ukrainian infrastructure by setting up fresh water links.

They also work to ensure access to healthcare and help people contact relatives. They provide basic needs such as water, food, clothing and blankets as well as hygiene kits and cash or vouchers.

They are also directly involved in negotiating with troops to arrange humanitarian corridors to get people out of besieged areas.

On the borders of Ukraine, the funds are used to set up humanitarian points with access to essential services such as healthcare, water, sanitation and mental health supports.

They also provide people who cross the border with cash as many have run out of money over the course of their journey out of Ukraine.

Donations also go towards the implementation of protection and prevention measures, including child safeguarding.

Contributions to the Red Cross are fed into the International Federation of the Red Cross to support work both in Ukraine and the humanitarian hubs in surrounding countries. They also go towards supporting the charity’s with work refugees arriving into Ireland, so donating money is still a way for you to help the people who come here. 

The Irish Red Cross provides meet, greet and transport services at airports and ferry ports – reception hubs have been opened at Dublin Airport and Rosslare Port – psycho-social first aid, information and voucher supports to assist with their immediate food and non-food needs. 

This week the charity said it has received around €20 million in donations since the invasion of Ukraine began last month. Of that, €15 million came from members of the public, while €5 million was donated by businesses.

The charity has a target of €26 million for its Ukraine appeal to fund an initial plan for interventions over a two-year timeframe. 

Dóchas, the Irish association of development NGOs, has compiled a list of organisations with open appeals to support Ukraine:

If you’re part of a local community group or organisation providing a service or supports to newly-arrived Ukrainian refugees and you’re looking for volunteers, we want to hear from you. Contact

 Reporting by Michelle Hennessy & Orla Dwyer. Edited by Daragh Brophy.

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