Press releases

Press release: ShelterBox helping people in Ukraine survive sub-zero winter

Charity launches urgent fundraising appeal to help disaster affected people around the world

18 November 2022

Buildings damaged by bombing in Ukraine

Press release – 18 November 2022

The international disaster relief charity ShelterBox has essential aid in Ukraine designed to help people survive a long and harsh winter. Millions of people are bracing for temperatures as low as -15 degrees centigrade as they continue to live in damaged homes, with limited or no heating.

Almost nine months after the start of the war, an estimated 15.7 million Ukrainians – that’s more than a quarter of the UK population – are still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, according to UNHCR.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for people who have continued to live in damaged homes, or returned to them, to keep warm with electricity and gas supplies badly affected by the ongoing war.

Using its many years of experience supporting displaced people in Syria through freezing winters, ShelterBox will be helping thousands of people in Ukraine protect themselves and their families from the cold.

The charity will be giving people thermal blankets, clothing, and emergency repair kits –including tarpaulins and timber – to help them fix damaged roofs, seal windows and doors, keep the heat in, and make homes watertight.

The most vulnerable households will also be given solid fuel stoves, and a supply of firewood that will last the average family through the winter, to help them prepare for the bitterly cold season. This type of stove is regularly used to heat homes in rural areas of the country and is desperately needed to help people survive the cold.

ShelterBox’s Programme Manager for Ukraine, Rachel Harvey, is in Kyiv as the next phase of the charity’s response gets underway.

She says: “With the passage of time, whilst the number of people leaving the country has reduced, many thousands of people still living in Ukraine are struggling to survive in damaged homes.

“We know from our work in Syria that heating one room can make a huge difference to a whole family.

“It’s regularly sub-zero in parts of Ukraine and with gas and oil supplies badly hit, people are facing temperatures inside their homes that are potentially life threatening. That’s why we are focusing on keeping people and their houses as warm as possible.”

Cornwall-based ShelterBox has already supported thousands of families affected by the crisis in Ukraine since March – refugees on the move in Moldova, as well as people internally displaced at collective centres, or living in damaged homes.

As its attention now turns to helping people survive the winter months in Ukraine – supporting thousands more people who are living in ravaged homes – ShelterBox is renewing its urgent appeal to help fund its responses around the world.

Supporting the charity with its winter appeal is long-term supporter and friend of ShelterBox, Stephen Fry. He provides the introduction for a new film based on a poem about home by Ukrainian poet Serhy Zhadan, and voiced by Ukranian actor Ivantiy Novak, to help raise awareness of ShelterBox’s lifesaving work.

ShelterBox has worked with thousands of people – both in Ukraine and neighbouring         countries – who have faced the impossible question of ‘What would you take?’. This film is for them, the 100 million people who are forced from their homes by disaster and conflict every year.

ShelterBox believes home is that essential first step of recovery – a place of safety and dignity; a place to cook, sleep, and shelter. ShelterBox is working in Ukraine in partnership with Relief Aid and Green Chernobyl.

As well as supporting people in Ukraine, ShelterBox is also helping people displaced by conflict in Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. Support is provided in many ways and includes different combinations of emergency shelter items and training that are locally appropriate to make the biggest difference for communities after disaster.

For more information about ShelterBox’s end of year campaign visit the charity’s website.


Contact the press office at ShelterBox via [email protected].

Notes to Editors

  • Interviews available with ShelterBox’s Programme Manager for Ukraine, Rachel Harvey, who is in Kyiv as the next phase of the charity’s response gets underway. Interviews available Friday 18, Saturday 19, Sunday 20 November 2022
  • ShelterBox b-roll in Ukraine
  • Interviews with two recipients of ShelterBox aid in Ukraine during the summer
  • Images and captions available on request
  • ShelterBox has been working with people from Ukraine on a film about home, in support of its fundraising appeal to help people in Ukraine this winter. It is introduced by long-term ShelterBox supporter and friend, Stephen Fry. It launches on Friday 18 November.
  • The film is based on a poem by Serhiy Zhadan which asks a simple question with a tangle of answers. What would you take? (DropBox link and YouTube link)

The film features images and footage from the charity’s work in Ukraine, showing the brutal impact of war and how some of the people supported by ShelterBox have been affected.

Often described as one of the most important voices in contemporary Ukrainian literature, award-winning writer, and musician Serhiy Zhadan has remained in his home city of Kharkiv throughout the war, organising humanitarian aid. Serhiy has written this untitled poem about home and the Ukraine’s experience of war, exclusively for ShelterBox’s winter appeal. Known as ‘the rockstar poet’, he’s played with his band for hospital patients and people sheltering in bunkers.

Ivantiy Novak is a Ukrainian-British writer, actor, director, and poet. Since the outbreak of the conflict, he’s been raising funds, packing supplies – and sharing the culture and art of Ukraine with the world. Ivantiy has voiced the poem for the film. He also worked on the translation with writer and translator, Charlotte Hobson.

People, like snails, wait for the evening

Sleeping so soundly, so deeply in stations 

Women who left clean bedsheets back home 

Children who cling to their mother’s hand. 

What will you take, little snail, from your burning home?

First of all, faith that you will return. 

Remember the way the furniture stood; 

Hide the keys in your pocket like a dried flower. 

This is your road – walked by the voiceless. 

Overnight stays between silence and rain. 

Be brave, snails, know your worth on this journey. 

You’re denied a home – never a heart.