Support from our community

Find out how members of our University community are offering help and support to those affected by war in Ukraine and other countries.


If you have a story to share, please email

Community volunteering

Adam Tinsley, Estates & Facilities Management

Back in March when the war in Ukraine had started, I was hearing locally in Maltby that people wanted to help by sending donations but there wasn't anything to facilitate goods being collected and transported to Poland and Ukraine to help with the relief effort.

I took it upon myself to start advertising a collection and find a haulier that would help us transport items. Within two weeks we collected a full shipping container of donations, and in just over four weeks we had collected enough aid to fill an HGV articulated truck.

I contacted a haulier and they agreed to help us transport the items over directly to the Polish Red Cross which would redistribute the items to refugee centres and into Ukraine.

Adam (far right) with the haulier and local MP.

Dr Rachel Bovill, Academic Programmes and Student Engagement

My husband, Tony Bovill, and I are working with a group led by our friend Richard Astle.

In 2012, Tony and Richard went to Kharkhiv and Donetsk for the Euros where they stayed with friends of friends, Igor and Galya. In 2014, the couple moved to Kyiv where Igor is a heart surgeon.

At the beginning of the war, Igor stayed in Kyiv, while his wife and three daughters came to Poland near Krakow. We contacted Igor who asked for medical supplies. The group raised funds for these, and in March, Tony and Richard took them out to Poland in a van.

While there, they met three women with their children in Oswiciem, Poland, who had been given a shared flat in the town, and we were able to assist them financially and with food supplies.

They also made contact with a Polish church working with Ukrainians to get food supplies into Eastern Ukraine so the second and third trips took food as well as medicine. 

The group is also supporting summer camps for Ukrainian children in Poland, which Galya is organising with a Polish child psychologist friend. Dronfield Homes for Ukraine is supporting us to sponsor Nataliia, one of the women in Oswiciem, and her daughter to come to Dronfield.

Nataliia is a university lecturer in Economics, so it would eventually be good to introduce her to colleagues from that department. She speaks Russian, Ukrainian and understands Polish well.

Visit the group’s Just Giving page

Tony and Richard departing on their second trip to Poland to deliver supplies.

Homes for Ukraine

A number of colleagues have opened up their homes to support families fleeing the war in Ukraine, through the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Here, they share their moving experiences.

Fiona Campbell, ScHARR

We signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme as soon as it was announced and four weeks ago a family from Mariupol arrived. We had been able to help a little with their visa applications and sent photos of our home and family, hoping to ease their fear of the unknown.  

Two members of the family had never left Ukraine and none of them spoke any English. It is hard to fully understand how frightening the whole experience must be for them. They came with two suitcases, leaving treasured belongings (a lifelong stamp collection), livelihoods (electrical tools), and their family pet behind. 

Dad had worked at the steelworks in Mariupol, they shared photos of the family standing outside the Mariupol theatre at Christmas, the theatre festooned behind them.  

The paperwork to get a bank account, benefits and healthcare with no English is hard work. We have spent many hours helping them navigate forms, websites, automated phone responses, and translation apps have been invaluable to us all.  

Perhaps the most exciting moment was calling a local school to see if they could offer support to their son. He had not been to school since February.

I enquired about chess clubs or if they had students learning Russian that he could help. Astoundingly they offered him a school place, provided a brand new uniform, and sorted a curriculum that built in additional English. 

Mum and Dad are working hard to learn English, Dad could not fight on medical grounds, and English is the gateway to a job and to trying to restart their lives. 

Slowly, through this contact many more families are getting in touch hoping to find hosts. It is enormously rewarding, and it is good to somehow bear a small cost when others have lost everything. There remain questions about what will happen to these families when the scheme ends.

For now, we go step by step, hopefully cushioning in a small way the trauma of war, of witnessing the destruction of your home, being made a refugee and the vulnerability of knowing that your security rests solely on the kindness of strangers.

Steve Thompson, Corporate Communications 

"The people here are really great, they let you in front of them in a queue to pay for your shopping"

Sponsoring a Ukrainian family has given me, my partner and two kids a fresh perspective on life in modern Britain. There is still so much kindness here despite all the worry and negativity in the news. 

It's the little things that our new Ukrainian friends point out that provide this. The smiles and hellos they receive in the street and in our local sports clubs before anyone even knows their situation, and the surprise at being let in front of a queue at a supermarket when they've only got one item to pay for - this would never happen back home!

There have been welcome gifts for Emma who is eight years old and the inevitable food and drink to welcome them all into the community. 

We’re fortunate. We happen to get along and we share and taste traditional homemade dishes from our respective countries, we watch on adoringly as the kids create wildly imaginative games and communicate easily without a common language.

But we know there is pain - we hear it sometimes in the early hours or a tear flows after a call home.

It’s a privilege to be in a position to help and although I wish this experience wasn’t happening, it’s also a fascinating circumstance that makes me appreciate my own home and community so much more. 

Rob Barnett, Chaplaincy

Since the start of May, my parents-in-law, who live in Sheffield, have been hosting a Ukrainian family: a mum and her two daughters (aged four and eight). The husband/dad is continuing his IT job in Kyiv, with the possibility of being called up for military service. 

As my in-laws had a holiday booked, they asked my wife and me to house sit with our dog and three-year-old son for the fortnight they were away.

We met the family a couple of times before we moved in. The mum speaks some English whereas the girls have been learning from scratch. A few days after we moved in, the girls started at a local school. They have quickly learnt some basic language and made some friends.

We have done our best to support them all during the fortnight; helping with paperwork, buying school uniforms, and giving lifts to and from the school by bus and car.

When possible we’ve shared meals with them, sometimes enjoying some tasty Ukrainian food which my wife has had a go at cooking. Through this and other times together, we’ve got to know each other.

The girls enjoy playing with our son and dog, particularly in the garden. The neighbours kindly said the children can play on their large trampoline whenever they want, which the youngsters love. The family regularly speaks by phone and video to loved ones. They’ve also met some other Ukrainians who have come to Sheffield.

While there have been stressful times – sometimes all three children are understandably tired at the end of the day – it has been extremely rewarding.

As we live close by, naturally we hope to see plenty more of the family while they are here. We hope that maybe we can one day meet the husband/dad.

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