Volunteers from County Kildare are wanted for an online network that helps Ukrainian refugees who have made specific requests to meet their needs.
Helpify Community Ukraine (HCU), which was recently featured on the Brendan O’ Connor show on RTÉ Radio 1, calls on the people of Kildare to join its Europe-wide network of volunteers to help those fleeing war in Ukraine .
The non-profit online platform aims to ease the burden on refugees by connecting those in need of help with a nearby volunteer who can help with their request.
This may include: travel or legal advice, transportation, medical needs, short term accommodation, translations and/or pet care.
The HCU site is available in English, Ukrainian, Polish, French and Dutch.
Olena Leontieva, a Ukrainian national living in Ireland and spokesperson for HCU, explained: “The Helpify community is about holding Ukrainians by the hand at every stage of their journey – from their home to the border and all the way to their destination. Like so many people when the war broke out, we felt helpless.
“There were thousands of help requests per hour on social media, with most going unanswered; we wanted to find a way to connect people who need help with people who can provide it.
She continued: “People fleeing their homes have neither the time nor the free space to search for information on government websites or to find complicated travel routes.
“Helpify brings relief to refugees; all the work is done by volunteers and the only request from the Ukrainians is to set up a mission.
HCU was set up in Belgium during the pandemic to connect confined people with volunteers who could help with dog walking, pharmacy runs and other needs.
When the invasion of Ukraine began, Olena Leontieva and her team partnered with HCU to reuse the platform for global use and translate it into Ukrainian and Polish: it was up and running in just five days.
Ms Leontieva said: “Every day I get asked by Irish people how they can help. Signing up as a volunteer for Helpify Community Ukraine is a way for everyone to do what they can, whether it’s driving a family from the airport to its destination, offering advice, providing clothing or short-term accommodation.
“Over 300 volunteers in Ireland have already joined Helpify, but with up to 100,000 Ukrainian nationals expected here, we need all the help we can get.”
How it works:
The HCU website offers two easy options: sign up as a volunteer from any country in the world or ask for help.
Those who join as volunteers complete a simple profile including location and type of support they can provide.
Volunteers are asked to upload proof of identity which is verified by the HCU team to ensure the safety of those using the platform.
When someone seeking help registers a “mission”, nearby volunteers receive an alert with the details of the mission.
Those who can help accept the mission and are connected with the person in need.
According to HCU, the project is a citizens’ initiative, non-profit and free to use, without commercial links, and the platform was created and is financed by volunteers from all over Europe.
The HCU website can be accessed by clicking on here.