Domestic Support for Refugees - Ready Scotland Guidance

21 March 2022

When we see people in crisis we all want to help in some way. Humanitarian aid can save lives. 

At this time, the best way to help the people of Ukraine is to donate to registered charities that have ongoing relief operations. Here is Ready Scotland’s guide to supporting humanitarian causes and making donations in a safe and effective way.

  • The best way to help the people of Ukraine is to donate to registered charities that have ongoing relief operations or connect with local refugee support groups to see what help they may need.
  • Money is normally the most useful donation you can make in any humanitarian situation, particularly when giving to charities with experience of operating in crisis zones. 
  • Dealing with donated items comes with various risks and difficulties, but communities can redistribute surplus goods in positive ways.


Warm Scots Welcome

Scotland’s offer to provide refuge and sanctuary to displaced Ukrainians, as part of the UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, is now open.

The Scottish Government’s route to accommodation, support and care in Scotland – the Warm Scots Welcome - removes the need for applicants to be matched to a named individual before they are cleared to travel to the UK through the visa system.

The Scottish programme is available as an option to Ukrainians when applying for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, by opting for the organisational sponsor route, and selecting “The Scottish Government” from the drop-down box in response to the question “Which organisation is sponsoring you?”

Scottish people willing to volunteer and provide homes for Ukrainians arriving through the sponsorship scheme are encouraged to sign up at the Homes for Ukraine portal. Their details will be shared with Scottish Government so that appropriate matches can be arranged while immediate support is provided to those arriving.

There is a network of public and voluntary sector organisations working to welcome and settle people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Once the new arrivals are settled in local areas they may need some material items or other local support and communities may have a role to play in this. Connect with your local refugee support groups to find out if you or your community group might be able to provide support if and when it’s needed.


Financial donations

Money is normally the most useful donation you can make, particularly when giving to charities with experience of operating in crisis zones. As well as enabling aid organisations to get essential aid to people directly in crises zones, it will also help the people fleeing conflict and danger to get exactly what they need, when they need it, no matter where they are and support the local economy. This is particularly the case in a fast moving humanitarian crisis.

There are many reputable non-profit organisations, with the expertise to give on-the-ground support to those most in need. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) brings together 15 leading aid charities from across the UK to raise funds quickly and efficiently. There are also two leading Scottish charities SCIAF and MercyCorps who are running fundraising appeals for Ukraine, and other local charities. 


Donating goods

The needs in a humanitarian crisis are constantly shifting, and donated goods are not usually the best solution. It can take a lot of resources to manage, sort, and dispose of unneeded items in countries which are providing emergency support.

If you are involved in or are planning to setup a local appeal for goods make sure you know in advance how the goods are going to get to the people in need, exactly what is needed, and how the goods will be removed and potentially disposed of if they can’t be used.

The best route is through an established charitable organisation with experience of delivering aid to areas in crisis, but check with the organisation before you begin any collections. Delivering goods directly to areas in crisis should only be done by organisations with a lot of experience in this area. Usually it’s much more effective – and often more cost effective and efficient - for them to purchase goods as close as possible to where they are needed.

The FCDO advise against all travel to Ukraine.


Dealing with surplus goods

If your community has already gathered items, and now find that you can’t distribute them as you had first intended, you may want to consider alternative ways to distribute the items so they are used in a positive way.

First, do a stock take of all the collected items so that you understand what you have and can ensure they are clean, good quality and, if food items, have a significant period before the use-by dates.

In direct support of Ukraine

  • Get in contact with local refugee support charities to find out what items they might need for refugees on arrival. You may have to arrange for short term local storage. This could be costly, so if you haven’t distributed the goods within 8 weeks then you may want to think about other options.
  • If you have good quality, re-usable items you could sell them locally at fundraising events or online and donate that money to an appeal for Ukraine.

There are people in Scotland whose lives may be negatively impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for example Ukrainians working in Scotland separated from their families and others with heightened costs and fuel bills. Redistributing the collected items will make a positive difference to charities in your area who are helping people in need.

  • Contact your local charity shops to see if they can give away or sell items of clothing, blankets, shoes and other items.
  • Consider redistributing the items to Scottish charities who are supporting those in need. You could contact your local food bank, ‘new start’ organisations, or Fareshare to offer items they might be able to distribute.
  • Reach out to your local Third Sector Interface in case they know of a way to use surplus items rather than disposing of them.

If it is not possible to use or sell the collected goods, consider re-use or recycling:

  • Contact your local council to find whether they have any need for the goods, can help with storage or can put you in touch with your recycling centre.
  • Offer goods to a ‘reuse hub’ or free online recycling sites.
  • Finally once all other options have been exhausted the final course of action would be to dispose of any unwanted goods at your local recycling centre.

When making decisions about how to use or redistribute the items you have collected, engage with the community who made the donations to explain the reasons for your decisions.



Getting involved with voluntary and community groups allows you to help others. It could be raising funds for humanitarian appeals, gathering essential items for families in need in your local area, or supporting refugees in other ways.

Connecting with local community groups to lend a hand is a great way to offer support, and there are also routes into more formal volunteering. You could register with your local volunteer centre or become a Community Reserve Volunteer with British Red Cross. You might not be needed straight away, but by being registered you’ll be the first to hear when there are opportunities.


Businesses and humanitarian support

Businesses can play an important role in supporting people through humanitarian crises. This could be through offering your expertise, funding to support a project, premises, or other specialist goods. The key messages are:

  • Financial/cash donations are often more effective than in-kind donations.
  • Build connections with charities who are helping people impacted by humanitarian crises, either at home or abroad, and explore how your business could support if needed. For example you can reach out to your local refugee support charities to find out what support they might need
  • Business in the Community has advice on how your business can support Ukraine


Donate with care

Research the charities that you are considering for any type of donation to ensure you know where and how donations will be used.

Unfortunately there are criminals who seek to exploit the kindness of others. Be aware of scams in form of unsolicited emails and texts. You can report scams direct to Police Scotland and find out more at ConsumerAdvice.Scot

For more information: