Learning disability charities from across the UK are working together to raise funds targeted specifically to assist those with learning disabilities who are trapped in Ukraine and unable to seek refuge from the war.

A coalition of UK-based learning disability charities, including ENABLE Scotland, The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, Mencap, Jweb learning disabilities network and Learning Disability England, have responded directly to a fundraising effort led by Inclusion Europe, and have united to help Ukrainians with learning disabilities and their families.

The charities have raised more than £75,000 within a week in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and war in Ukraine, and are working closely with Inclusion Europe and its Ukrainian members to ensure this money reaches families in need directly.

It is estimated by Inclusion Europe, working closely with the All-Ukrainian VGO Coalition for Persons with Intellectual Disability, that there are immediate and urgent requirements to support 261,000 Ukrainian citizens who have a learning disability; 30,000 of whom are in residential care homes. Original estimates suggested that there are around 100,000 disabled people living in institutions in Ukraine, including 80,000 children, with fears growing each day for their safety.

Austen Smyth, CEO of The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, said: “The Richmond Fellowship Scotland are keen to support people with a Learning Disability in Ukraine. Practical support is required and our donation of £20,000 will hopefully be of use and target the most vulnerable. We reach out to them in solidarity and compassion.”


Theresa Shearer, CEO of ENABLE Group and who, as Vice President of Inclusion Europe, has coordinated the fundraising appeal across the UK, said: “Inclusion Europe has been guided directly by families of people who have a learning disability living in Ukraine as to the most practical way to offer support at this time. I am pleased that learning disability charities across the UK have responded with such generosity to this humanitarian crisis.

“Over 260,000 people who have a learning disability in Ukraine are trapped in a war zone; on behalf of those families, Inclusion Europe thanks all of those organisations for their solidarity, and their generosity. We continue to work through Inclusion Europe’s NGO members in Ukraine to ensure that this funding directly supports those families.

“We, as a learning disability community, are ready to support UK and Scottish Governments to ensure that any individuals or families who seek refuge in the UK are matched with families who understand learning disability.”


CEO of Mencap, Edel Harris, said: “The events in Ukraine are heart-breaking. We have been particularly worried about people with a learning disability and their families. We have felt powerless to help, so are pleased to be able to make this gesture alongside supporting our colleagues who have been impacted.”


Wendy Burt, family and friends members rep and co-chair of Learning Disability England, added:

“Charities coming together across the UK to unite to address this humanitarian crisis ensures that the emergency plans and crisis response considers all citizens including disabled people and their families. It is a powerful message to our friends in the Ukraine that they are not forgotten and we all need to do what we can to help.”


Deborah Gundle, Co-founder Jweb learning disabilities network, said: “Whilst the rockets and shelling of Ukraine makes the headlines, people who have a learning disability remain in the shadows of this conflict. Their plight is less known about and not considered during this humanitarian tragedy. We are marshalling our resources to throw what lifeline we can to these most vulnerable Ukrainians. We are very grateful to the VGO coalition for making this possible. We are with – in spirit and in hope – the many thousands of people with learning disabilities in care homes, institutions and with the families who have been unable to flee; they need all our support.”


Led by their partners in Ukraine, Inclusion Europe members across the continent are together calling for:

  • Secure supplies of daily necessities to people who have a learning disability, including medicines;
  • Civil protection information in easy read and accessible formats to help people who have a learning disability understand the measures they need to take in dangerous situations;
  • Monitoring of the situation in “care institutions” to ensure people are not abandoned or harmed;
  • Specific support through humanitarian organisations for people who have a learning disability, whether living in the community or in institutions, including support to access movement to a place of safety in line with routes available to other Ukrainian citizens at present.

The charities urge donations to be sent to Inclusion Europe in order to best direct and target financial support to people who have a learning disability and their families – You can make a donation here:

Click here to Support Families in Ukraine
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