Time to Step Up – Ukraine Needs Our Help!

The problem with terrible news such as the Putin invasion into Ukraine is that after a very short while people are horror-shocked and no longer want to hear or see anything about it. What I have noticed during the Ukraine invasion is a following to demonstrate support by colour – blue and yellow to symbolise support of the Ukraine flag. I personally feel (and of course some may disagree) but it felt that some companies jumped on a bandwagon to promote their products in these colours which I have to say, I found poor. To the point that instead of buying products sent to me in the support of Ukraine, I unsubscribed.

I do love the human spirit and passion that many have shown like the woman on Russia TV with her signage of support for Ukraine shown behind the presenter (albeit she was later questioned for 14 hours for doing so) – I also know from facts, that Russia has advised… no warned… those in the Press in Russia and Ukraine that they may NOT print anything negative.

What has also been shocking is the colour of the war, it has been live through social media and on the news as it happened, in colour (unlike black and white photographs of World War II). The impact of children’s anoraks hanging on hooks in a hall of a home with the side of that apartment block blown off was quite daunting.

The feature of war today is the ability to quickly confirm claims as accurate or propaganda. How difficult that makes it for those troublemakers who want to win a battle in any way they can – usually to cover wrongdoing.

As each profession has pulled its activities together and each nation too, what has the interior design world done to help?

Well, SBID has strong connections with Ukraine and Kyiv when it was invited to work with them and assist the establishment of the sector. We have friends, we know the families, we have watched the children grow up and we have watched the city centre develop – yet it is still a poor country and so to watch it being blown up was more upsetting than I can explain.

From left to right: Natalia Bolshakova, Vanessa Brady, Julia Danilova at the launch of SBID Ukraine.

After a meeting with Julia Danilova, who heads up the Ukraine office, on the direct impact of the crisis, SBID have worked in partnership with SBID Ukraine who have built, with the finance sector in Ukraine, an international fund with donations from business generated to help home, clothe and feed the patriots of Ukraine who have lost their homes.

One day they were wondering what to have for dinner, the next they were blown from one side of the city to the next – moving so peacefully and calmly to the borders for their safety.

Just yesterday, 20 days into the invasion (it has not been a war as Ukraine have not been sending planes and their army to Russia), I was on a zoom with four countries including our dear contact in Kyiv when we could hear the sounds of bombing and across the windows behind him flew three jets so fast I thought it was birds, the reaction was to keep the meeting going and he simply drew his curtains and put his Piero phone on mute. That is the backbone of the Ukrainians – they are fearless, loyal and hardworking. They are honest and decent, and I am keen to help rebuild the country and help their citizens return as soon as possible to a new life where they belong at home.

What can the interior design community do? Connect with us and help us to help the people with the funds collated (at the time of writing this, uttps://Unchain.Fund has received £4.2m which is our recommended charity launched via the British charity registered at the Charity’s Commission in 2012 for education). This charity has provided internships and mentoring for students and school leavers and annually the SBID and SBID Ukraine student competition; Get me 2 The Top has provided opportunity and jobs that has launched the careers of many young graduates into professionals. Let’s keep this momentum going now that these young people have lost their schools, universities and opportunities.

The fund will provide immediate support for those who desperately need it and obviously complies with the strict financial codes and regulations in place for finances. What we were not expecting was the sums received. The Ukraine team tell me their contact support groups and companies have now swollen with volunteers to almost 100 people, but we know 1.5million people have moved to Poland, so I am inviting anyone and everyone in housing, construction, design and manufacture to help. If you have stock, a heaving stockroom with your over-orders, wrong orders, rejects, damaged (lightly) and end of production lines, let’s see how we can convert it into something tangible and helpful for everyone – let’s not make a disaster into a business.

Click here to visit the Vanessa Brady Foundation website.