Ways to help and ways to cope


Responding to Ukraine's needs while coping with rising cost at home

Green Living
McKinley Neal

IT is a heavy time to be responding to a newly provoked crisis, at the end of a two-year pandemic period, but the people of Ireland have made tremendous efforts to support the people affected by the invasion of Ukraine.
The humanitarian response will be necessary for a sustained period, and based on conversations I have had with volunteers who have experience with displaced people, monetary funds are the best way for us to support relief efforts. Organisations on the ground see the reality of people fleeing on a daily basis, and can channel funds to the greatest areas of need at any given time, and avoid waste that can result from items that are unsuitable for the people they are supporting.
The Irish Red Cross partners with organisations in the Ukraine, and the surrounding countries to which people are fleeing, to provide medical assist- ance and essential personal items, and Unicef is responding to meet basic needs for children and families.
Once Ukrainians and others displaced by the war make their way to our com- munities, there will be many more opportunities for us to respond with compassion as we help people integrate. The Irish Red Cross operates a regis tration for people willing to house peo- pleat registerofpledges.redcross.ie.
Another organisation, Let’s Match Mums (www.letsmatchmums.com), has already done excellent work in chan- neling donations from individuals to women living with children in Direct Provision, and it is expanding its remit to meet the needs of Ukrainian families as they arrive. It matches people who have items in good condition to people with children of similar ages, and to establish a relationship of solidarity and care.
We will all feel the effects of a war in Europe, from the continual rise in prices of fuel and foods, which will also test the limits of our own funds. The pres- sure on families to pay more for elec- tricity and the weekly shop is growing, and we will all need to be aware of how we can support one another during challenging times.
As a family, we are thinking about how we can save in some areas to make up for added expenses in others, and def- initely how we can plan our car trips efficiently to limit the need for driving
As much as possible, we try to have at least one car-free day a week (usually Sunday). We are also reviving some of our home-making practices that we started to let slip once restrictions eased, and we will be making our own treats and breads again.
We have made a list of the foods we are really keen to grow ourselves, and are working to prepare the beds and start the seeds in a sunny windowsill. This kind of self-sufficiency is an act of hope, to cultivate our own ability to provide for ourselves rather than rely- ing on global imports, and to share any extra we have with others for a kinder future tor us all.

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic toods, reusable goods, household products, eco-trendly personal care Items and gifts.