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Among numerous citizens in the West expressing a desire to help Ukrainians as they resist Putin’s invasion can be heard many voices from the fetish community.
Having witnessed the decency, kindness, generosity, inclusiveness and sense of fairness of so many fetish folk over the decades, I am not at all surprised by our community’s wish to support Ukraine at this time of great need.
I am also not surprised that my fetish friends have been vocal in criticising their own governments for some weak initial responses.
It’s great that some of the most feeble official stances have subsequently shifted under the weight of public criticism. However, the actions of some leaders still do not match the talk they’ve been talking.
Perhaps because of this, many of us are still looking for actions that we can take personally and directly.
Unless you are one of those brave souls who feel duty-bound to join Ukrainians fighting on the ground in Ukraine, then the options on offer are, broadly, to:
Print and online media currently feature various appeals from big charities and other organisations seeking public donations.
Among high profile UK appeals is that of DEC (the Disasters Emergency Committee). The UK Government has promised to match every DEC donation pound for pound, up to an amount of £20 million.
But these major appeals aside, which organisations do Ukrainians themselves trust the most?
In London, the fetish community boasts a Ukrainian latex designer, Kimber, who has been making latex clothing here since 2010. Her Zorenko London brand is well-established and popular. So I asked her: how can kinksters help Ukraine?
Kimber has provided recommendations for charities and other organisations that the Ukrainian diaspora in London and beyond is using to provide targeted help.
Her suggestions can be found in the Ways to Help section at the bottom of this article, along with some other options you may wish to investigate.
But let me first relay some of the thoughts Kimber has been sharing with me this week while reacting to the situation unfolding in her native country.
Our conversations take place mid-week, just before the escalation of Russian action that includes the shelling and taking control of a big Ukrainian nuclear power station.
A summary of other newer developments can be found in the caption beneath the map at the top of this page.
In her initial missive to me, Kimber says: “I really appreciate the support for Ukraine and our soldiers fighting for our freedom and Europe. It really means a lot and gets the spirit out.
“Honestly I’ve never experienced such terror, and literally your blood runs cold when you hear the air raid sirens daily.
“My mum and niece are still over there in Lviv [in western Ukraine near the Polish border]. Today she went to cook for soldiers.
“So far she has no desire to leave her home and go to an unfamiliar place. She used to live in London with me, and returned back home to retire and live a peaceful life with her grandchild.
“Now that’s turned upside down. Like my relatives, a lot of people in the west of Ukraine wouldn’t leave their home out of pure defiance. ‘Ain’t no way in hell these fucks will drive us out of our home’ is the general vibe.
“Also people fear looting if they were to flee — you might not have a home to come back to if you leave. There is a high risk of it being taken over by marauders or migrants from east of Ukraine.
“So we are staying put and doing everything we can to help and drive the enemy back. There is no time to cry, dwell or mope around. It’s time to take action and not be an armchair warrior.
“This week,” Kimber continues, “I will be visiting Ukrainian club [in London] to see which specific supplies they need, as things get donated all the time.
“At the moment I think they are OK with baby food and nappies as ten tons got delivered to Lviv today and are being distributed to towns by civilians.
“It’s very important to donate the right way — either send stuff direct to Polish counterparts so they can drive it across the border, or donate to the Ukrainian army. The army has a QR code that takes you directly to the website.” [See Ways to Help panel below.]
By complete coincidence, one of Zorenko’s many eye-catching latex designs is the F••k Off Skirt (pictured above and below). In my reply to Kimber, I remark that this design surely carries just the kind of message Ukrainians’ want to send right now.
Kimber’s response suggests that she agrees.
“‘Fuck Off Putin’ is actually the slogan for the Ukrainian navy right now, after they tried to defend Snake Island,” she replies. “They said ‘Russian ship: Go fuck yourself’ and didn’t surrender. There are countless stories that inspire our heroism at the moment.”
I also ask her if she can confirm that road signs in Ukraine are being replaced to confuse advancing ground forces.
The first example I had seen (pictured earlier in this text) is not real — it‘s a digitally altered image created by Ukrainian authorities to encourage local people to ‘correct’ signs. But signs definitely are being replaced.
“The road signs have been removed as Russian soldiers don’t know the terrain and signs like this are pretty much in every town,” says Kimber.
“Some soldiers are asking directions from villagers and to buy food. They have expired MREs [military rations] from 2015. When the Russian soldiers surrender we feed them and allow them to call their parents. Some haven’t eaten in three days!”
The fight to spread the word about war atrocities in Ukraine is vital at the moment.
“We have to battle through war not only on the ground, air and sea but also virtually, and to fight the misinformation Russia is spreading. In fact we created an IT army to check and report only fact-checked news, and take down fake websites and posts in circulation.
“There are constant lies and brainwashing that they are not attacking civilians and only bombing military targets. But in the last five days they shot at a nursery, orphanage, children’s hospital, universities and regular people.
“We have been able to hold back Russian forces so far by pure dogged stubbornness and support from around the world. It’s vital to keep the momentum going and keep at it aggressively. We have a long way to go to end this war.
“They are hoping to wear down our will. We are fighting for our freedom of choice and free speech, for our children not to live under the oppression of a deranged dictator.
“This is our home, our land that we worked hard for and will protect to the very end.”
Kimber adds that a question she has been frequently asked of late is: will her family flee Ukraine to seek asylum in the UK or somewhere else?
“This honestly irks me,” she says. “Why should we flee? People worked hard to buy a home, build a happy life for their families. Why would we give that up? We will stand our ground and protect our life’s work.
“I understand that a big proportion of our population has been left destitute with only the clothes on their backs. Or they’re finding it hard to support and look after their families who are in constant fear and terror.
“I can’t blame them for fleeing,” she admits. “However, Ukrainians are not running away — there’s a massive difference.
“We’re relocating to a different place where we can be most effective in supporting our families, soldiers and country, and can do it in a calm, rational way without panic.
“I really hope that the UK and people worldwide keep spreading the message to stop this war and stop the misinformation.
“Our people are throwing themselves in front of military vehicles to stop them in their tracks. Men and women are stopping them with bare hands and no weapons, and telling them to turn back. It’s unimaginable — more like stuff you see in Hollywood films.
“We need action to end this nightmare! Just because it’s not on your doorstep doesn’t mean this won’t happen to you.
“The thing that’s keeping the terror from spreading at the moment — the thing that’s in the way for Putin — is Ukraine.
“Putin is a narcissistic dictator with no remorse or compassion, and he won’t stop just stop at our border. It would be naive and ignorant to believe that.”
How can kinksters help Ukraine? Kimber has provided links to trusted charities providing direct assistance of one kind or another to Ukraine and its refugees.
In three cases there are QR codes that you can scan to go straight to the websites.
Trusted organisations are listed on:
BRITISH UKRAINIAN AID
(via Just Giving) (QR code above)
Registered Charity 1164472
The above website provides a number of other options for donating:
–By PayPal to email@example.com
–Via British-Ukrainian Aid website
–By direct debit to British Ukrainian Aid
Sort code: 20-27-49
ASSOCIATION OF UKRAINIANS IN GREAT BRITAIN (via GoFundMe)
(QR code above)
Sort code: 20-65-89
Payment reference: HelpUkraine
HELP THE ARMY: LONDON EUROMAIDAN (QR code above)
Sort code: 04-06-05
UKRAINIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
Bilingual site includes account info for donating directly to the army at:
DONATE FOR HUMANITARIAN & MEDICAL AID
Sort code: 30-98-97
Recipient: Ukrainian London Ltd
Payment reference: Save Ukraine
LONDON COLLECTION POINTS
DEC says money is the best thing you can give. But to donate items for humanitarian aid — including toiletries, clothes, toys and medical items such as first aid kits, burn medications, tourniquets, bandages and dressing aids — this link gives info about collection points in London:
In addition to London/national organisations listed above, you can find local Ukrainian groups around the country. Just put “Ukrainian club” into a Facebook search.