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OU Academics for Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine, by Russia, in February 2022 has caused the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since the Second World War. It has led to 3.5 million people being externally displaced, and, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), almost 6.48 million people who have fled areas of fighting are internally displaced in Ukraine.

Communities around the world have come together, united in their desire to offer support to those affected by loss and displacement. The Open University Sanctuary Working Group, who have been working with issues of forced migration for a number of years, have been fielding a growing number of inquiries from colleagues at the OU and in the HE sector, in relation to resources available and ways to help. This page is a small attempt to share some of our knowledge.

Our team is small and is trying hard to keep these resources updated, but this may not always be possible. If you wish to contact us, please do so at ousanctuary@open.ac.uk and we will do our best to respond promptly.

The Open University is offering welfare and pastoral support to both staff and students affected by the war in Ukraine, and are reviewing collaborations with partner institutions in Russia and Belarus, as mentioned in a message from OU Vice-Chancellor. As part of our Sanctuary initiative, we have launched new Sanctuary Scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers which will include full fee waivers and support, with bursaries for access modules. The Open University is also committed to supporting academics through Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA).

The organisations and initiatives below have been collated and provided by members of the Sanctuary Working Group for information only. Those listed are not endorsed by The Open University, and their views do not necessarily align with or are supported by the OU.

If you have any relevant information, resources, or updates to be included, please send them to ousanctuary@open.ac.uk.

Covid Chronicles from the Margins
Covid Chronicles from the Margins investigates the pandemic crisis from the perspectives of asylum seekers and refugees, using creative methods and celebrating artful acts of resistance to marginalisation. The project, which is funded by the OU and the International Institute of Social Studies (Netherlands), involves co-creating a digital archive and exhibition that chronicles the impact of Covid-19 through the use of smartphone tools.

Sanctuary at The Open University
The Open University (OU) has a long-standing commitment to offering support and raising awareness of those seeking sanctuary through teaching, research, knowledge exchange, as well as community and civil society engagement. Sanctuary at The Open University is an initiative set by the Sanctuary Working Group, chaired by Professor Marie Gillespie, which comprises colleagues from across the institution, united in their commitment to work towards creating a place of sanctuary and safety at the university.

Below are free online learning resources for both Ukrainian refugees and those wanting to learn more about the crisis and how to support those involved.

War in Ukraine
The Conflict and Change group from the Department of Political Science at UCL have published a useful overview of the conflict happening in Ukraine.

Working Supportively with Refugees: Principles, Skills and Perspectives
University of Glasgow are offering a free OpenLearn course where you can learn how the principles of psychological well-being, communication and interpretation can benefit your work with refugees.

Free online resources for Ukrainian refugees
From free courses in the English language to articles on mental health and wellbeing, here are some free online resources from The Open University.

Event: ‘Keeping Learning Alive – from understanding to tackling needs of the disrupted and displaced Ukrainian Higher Education community’
March 10th, 2022
Organisers: The Conduit, Science for Ukraine and How to Change the World
Theme: Higher Education - Supporting Ukrainian academics and students
Note taker: Leslie Topp
Summary: This meeting provided an overview of the current situation for the HE sector in Ukraine, identified the main needs for current academics, and proposed actions to take forward. Please read the full summary: Keeping Learning Alive webinar overview.

Event: ‘Supporting Refugees: Responding to the Ukraine Crisis’
March 29th, 2022
Organisers: City of Sanctuary UK
Themes: Hosting, practical support
Summary: This event gave an summary of the current refugee crisis in Ukraine, covered what actions people can take to support people who are forced to flee, and gave ideas on how to foster welcome to refugees in your community. You can view the full event online on YouTube.

Event: Sanctuary at the OU Seminar: War in Ukraine and forced displacement in Europe
Date: April 12th, 2022
Organisers: Sanctuary at the Open University Working Group
Themes: Ukraine, War, Displacement
Summary: Open University students, staff and guests were invited to the first in a three-part seminar series which explores the issues of displacement, education and integration through open discussion with some exciting, pioneering speakers, who will share their first-hand experience of working in conflict areas, higher education and forced migration. This series is part of our Open University work towards becoming a University of Sanctuary and ensuring that we create a culture of welcome and support for students and staff affected by forced displacement and migration. You can view the full event online on YouTube.

Free UK-based helplines and legal advice for those fleeing Ukraine.

Free UK immigration advice for people fleeing Ukraine
Advice Ukraine are a group of volunteer legal professionals with immigration and asylum expertise. They are providing a free service to connect Ukrainian citizens (and others fleeing Ukraine) with free legal advice on UK immigration, visas and asylum from qualified and regulated lawyers.

Ukraine Family Scheme: Your Rights
Scottish Refugee Council is holding free online information sessions for people affected by the conflict in Ukraine who have recently arrived in Scotland through the Ukraine Family Scheme and for relatives who are about to welcome people arriving from Ukraine. You can register for an online session. They also have a helpline: 0808 196 7274

JustRight Scotland: Free Legal Advice for Ukrainians
Ukraine Advice Scotland project has been funded by the Scottish Government to provide free, confidential legal advice and information to Ukrainians and their families on legal routes for seeking safety in Scotland.

Scottish Government 'Super-Sponsor' route
Guidance for Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

Barnardo’s Ukrainian Support Helpline
Barnardo’s is an organisation that helps children, young people, parents, and carers across the UK. They have set up a Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service, covering over the phone therapy sessions, advice on a range of issues (housing, accessing health services, education, employment) and practical support. Call: 0800 148 8586

Ukraine Family Scheme
The UK Government also have a helpline for Ukrainian family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come to or stay in the UK. Call: 0808 164 8810

The UK Government has recently responded to the crisis with the Homes for Ukraine scheme, where British citizens are able to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine by becoming a ‘sponsor’. The list below contains guidance for this scheme, details of sponsorships, and things to consider before applying.

City of Sanctuary: Things to consider before applying to sponsor
Hosting is a significant commitment, and City of Sanctuary urge people to properly reflect on their ability to take on such a responsibility. City of Sanctuary UK is a nation-wide network which provides support, dignity and welcome to refugees and people seeking sanctuary. You can find out if your city is a City of Sanctuary.

Room for Refugees
Rooms for Refugees have set up a form for Ukrainians who want to be accommodated via Room for Refugees or the UK Government Homes for Ukrainians. You can also visit their website to find more information about becoming a host.

Homes for Ukraine: guidance for councils
This initial guidance on the Homes for Ukraine scheme outlines the role of councils across England in supporting the scheme. Additional advice will be published for councils in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland shortly.

RESET: Connecting refugees with sponsors across the UK
Reset Communities and Refugees is helping register and match refugees from Ukraine with sponsors across the UK. We’re a non-profit organisation set up in 2018 to help communities welcome refugees.

Artists at Risk
For anyone signing up to Homes for Ukraine, this is a means of finding a Ukrainian refugee to sponsor. As you see, they also work more widely with any artist who is being persecuted for their art.

There are various ways of donating to help the people of Ukraine, below are other ways you can support through initiatives at The Open University.

Help internally displaced families
Prof. Marie Gillespie, head of the Sanctuary at The Open University initiative, is lead of the Covid Chronicles from the Margins project. As part of this project Marie has been working with Olga, who has managed to secure premises and provide shelter for internally displaced Ukrainian families in her village in western Ukraine. She is hosting families passing through to the border, as well as families who are unwilling or unable to flee. You can find more information about Olga’s situation in blogs she has provided to the project.

Refugee Crisis Appeal
Since war broke out in Ukraine, 10 million people have been forced from their homes – 3.5 million are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. With your help, Scottish Refugee Council will be ready and waiting to offer information, advice and assistance to those arriving in Scotland in search of safety. Please donate to their Refugee Crisis Appeal if you can.

Give as you Earn
A tax-effective and easy way to donate to any charity in the UK.