Responses to the Ukraine refugee crisis – Focolare GB and beyond

So far £4,000 from the GB Ukrainian fund has been sent to Azione per un Mondo Unito (AMU) central fund. AMU is a non-profit NGO inspired by the spirituality of the Focolare Movement. Funds have also been directed to Caritas in the Ukraine.

So far £4,000 from the GB Ukrainian fund has been sent to Azione per un Mondo Unito (AMU) central fund. AMU is a non-profit NGO inspired by the spirituality of the Focolare Movement. Funds have also been directed to Caritas in the Ukraine.

Mira, a Slovenian focolarina who works for Caritas-Spes in Ukraine, writes about the work of the charity in recent days:

“In these days Caritas-Spes, thanks to the collaboration with other networks, is looking for and implementing safe routes to continue to receive and distribute aid. In the meantime, the 34 Caritas centres continue to be operational, in collaboration with parishes, and work is underway to create other assistance points.

The dioceses involved are Kyiv and Zhytomyr; Lviv, Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Lutsk, Mukachevo, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia.

19,753 people were provided with shelter and safe accommodation, some 11,217 people were provided with food and meals and some 12,589 people received food parcels with various relief items.

The distribution of clothes, shoes and hygiene products also continued, the latter reaching some 14,531 people. Specific medicines and other general drugs reached some 1,850 people.

These figures only refer to the main interventions, the population currently needs to meet all kinds of needs related to the disruption of their daily lives, whether they remain in their homes, have abandoned them because they were bombed or are seeking shelter in neighbouring countries.”

Some families in GB have registered their interest in offering hospitality to a Ukrainian family with the local authorities. While this is a generous step, it should not be forgotten that there are challenges and obligations involved in this: families arrive traumatised and with a wide range of needs – not least healthcare and education for the children and professional accompaniment.

It is important to be informed of what support is available from the local authorities, and it is recommended that potential hosts link up with established organisations with expertise in settling refugees.

It has been considered whether the Centre of Unity could be used to accommodate Ukrainian refugee families. However, following advice from charity consultants, it has been decided against this at present for a number of reasons. These include a lack of competence to meet the many needs that a large group of families would bring with them, which include the need for 24-hour accompaniment and psychological support. Only charities specifically set up to work with refugees are encouraged to do this. Nor can the need for personnel to cater, manage their integration into local services and education be met at this time; and, not least, taking into account the legal and financial requirements that the Focolare Movement operates under as a charity in the UK.

All of this does not prevent the Centre for Unity from being used to provide welcome and support for the Ukrainian families in the area. Tickets for a fundraising dinner and cultural evening scheduled for Saturday 26th March have already sold out. Many other personal initiatives of generosity and solidarity are underway.


Prayers for Unity continues weekly with the participation of people in the areas of conflict. Link for Prayers for Unity. Every Monday at 18.00 (GB)

Every Thursday at 6.30 UK time is held a worldwide prayer for peace in the Ukraine.

Experiences from other Focolare communities in Western Europe are also circulating. There is a marked difference in the support and possibilities offered by government organisations in each country. Here is a snapshot of recent involvement:

Holland has 42 refugee women and children in the Mariapolis Centre, after being approached by the local council. The council provides all the personnel and resources needed for feeding and looking after them.

Belgium is exploring the government structures for helping refugees. Many members are still involved in helping the victims of the July floods there while at the same time trying to reach out to Ukrainian refugees. Ireland is looking at using an apartment in their Mariapolis Centre to welcome a Ukrainian family.

There are also families considering welcoming refugees. Members are preparing welcome packs.

In Portugal 6 people linked to the movement drove in cars to Poland to collect refugees.

The Mariapolis Centre is housing a family: a mother, a grandmother and 4 children. In Scandinavia, a fundraising concert was staged, and a focolarino who is a doctor is travelling to Poland to help out.

In Luxembourg and France, many personal actions are being taken by members, and in Spain fundraising efforts have also included putting on a concert and going without food, coffee or luxuries in order to gather funds. There are also families offering hospitality.

May we, by the way we live, be builders of peace wherever we are.

More details of actions for Ukraine and for a United World can be found here