Staff and students at Cherwell College Oxford have been actively involved in awareness-raising and fundraising for Ukraine in and around the city of Oxford over recent months, following the launch of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine back in February.
As calls for charitable and humanitarian aid in Ukraine grow louder, the small tutorial college - which boasts a student body of just 50 - has partnered with the internationally known Stand With Ukraine foundation, as well as with other small volunteering organisations in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which has been one of the worst affected by Russian bombardment.
A close friend of the college, Svetlana Filatova, has been working on the ground in Ukraine for the volunteering organisation Peace to Kharkiv, helping provide basis aid such as food and medicine to vulnerable residents of the city. Such aid has successfully reached women, children and the elderly of Kharkiv, as well as the sick and disabled, where it is making a major difference to those affected by the war.
To help channel funds into the Peace to Kharkiv charity, Azad - the owner of The Taj Indian in nearby Evesham, Worcestershire and another close friend of Cherwell College Oxford - hosted a July fundraiser featuring Indian cuisine, 1980s disco music and traditional Ukrainian attire which was attended by Cherwellians and the local community.
50 per cent of the proceeds from the evening were donated to Peace to Kharkiv, to help ensure the provision of vital aid to those in need.
In recent months, Cherwell College Oxford has also been working with the Oxford University Ukrainian Society in its fundraising efforts. Young Cherwellians took part in March’s Oxford Donation Drive for Ukraine organised by the Ukrainian society, as well as in the society’s Fundraising Dinner the following month.
Since March, Cherwell College’s student volunteers have also been processing donations of essential items which are to be sent to refugee camps at the Ukrainian border with Poland. Their activities have involved receiving donations of items and packaging them, before the critical items are transported across the continent to the front-line of the crisis.
Back in May, the college opened its doors to a group of Ukrainian students, who were hosted in the city of Oxford for a two-week period and enjoyed a visit to London as part of their time in the UK.
Determined in its efforts to continue to support Ukraine for as long as required, Cherwell College Oxford will help host the three-day Bouquet Kyiv Stage Festival in Oxford this September. Running from September 27 to September 30 and held under the umbrella of the city’s Ukrainian Culture Weeks event, the initiative serves to pay tribute to Ukrainian heritage and culture, as the besieged country valiantly upholds the European values of democracy and freedom as it stands firm in the face of aggression.
Money raised from all current and future fundraising activities will continue to be funnelled into providing financial and humanitarian aid for Ukraine over the coming months.
For Cherwell College Oxford’s principal, Stephen Clarke, the host of fundraising events for Ukraine hold personal significance. Clarke served as the first secretary at the British Embassy in Kyiv between 2000 and 2003, and still has many friends and family members from the Eastern European country.
Clarke said: “I experience first-hand the devastating effects the war in Ukraine has on Ukrainians and those closely related to them. Likewise, as a British citizen, living in the UK, I am aware of problems in the UK which are a by-product of the wider, far-reaching consequences this war in Europe brings to the world.
“Hence, my message is clear and unambiguous: the war in Ukraine concerns everyone – or rather anyone not indifferent to the prosperity and peace in their own country and for their future generations.
“Although, we all may have our own view as to what the world leaders should or should not do to resolve the crisis, in all these differing opinions there is one aspect which must be integral to us all: humanity. As such, the college community is following the terrible news from Ukraine with distress and empathy for our Ukrainian friends and colleagues at Cherwell College.
"Being a small tutorial College, with a student body of 50 (a close-knit community), both staff and students have been actively involved in fundraising as well as awareness-raising in and around Oxford. We receive numerous appeals from people on the ground in Ukraine requesting financial and humanitarian aid. Any further money raised will go to the ongoing costs of sending any financial and humanitarian aid as this aid is going to be needed for many months ahead.”