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The skills to support Ukraine



The United Nations has described the conflict in Ukraine as the fastest and largest displacement crisis in living memory. Millions have left their homes. Tragically, thousands have lost their lives.

At Deloitte, teams across the firm came together to offer financial assistance, immigration and legal advice and digital support, alongside working with aid agencies and launching an accommodation matching scheme.

Connecting people

As the conflict in Ukraine escalated at the start of the year, we made contact with international aid agencies to understand how we could best support.

Aid agencies told us their most urgent need was funds. Deloitte North and South Europe (NSE) made a significant donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UK firm also raised £113,000 through our Annual Hour Appeal. The appeal meant for every pound our people donated to support our 5 Million Futures partners, the firm donated another pound to support people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. In addition, UK employees also fundraised £50,000 for UNHCR and ICRC.

As Ukrainians began to evacuate, as well as being displaced from their homes, they also faced the challenge of trying to integrate into a new society, often with little digital connectivity and differing English language skills. To help bridge that gap, we distributed over 1,000 laptops to support refugees, including provision for Refugee Action, the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain and to Deloitte people who sponsored a family or were involved in their community groups in their towns.

We also set up a pool of Ukrainian and Russian speakers to support with translation and interpretation needs and provided 79 volunteers to support conversation classes and mentoring activities for 38 Caritas Salford refugee learners.

Andrew Yule, a consultant in our tax practice: “Working with WJR we were able to use our Customs & Global Trade knowledge to ensure medical goods could be exported into Ukraine and distributed in the conflict zone without duties, delays, or seizures. It was a great opportunity to help vulnerable people get what they needed quickly.”

Providing a home away from home

Alongside financial support, our people were keen to use their skills to help aid the crisis further. We delivered pro-bono support to World Jewish Relief (WJR) to help with their work providing aid supplies to Ukrainians in need. This included a range of queries on customs arrangements which would allow them to get food and medical supplies out of the UK and into Ukraine as quickly as possible.

In addition, two of our Deloitte people took secondments with the Disaster’s Emergency Committee, helping with the increase in demand on the organisation for nine months.

While our people used their skills to help Ukraine as part of their working life, it also became clear that many Deloitte UK employees wanted to know how they could offer housing support to colleagues from our Ukrainian firm who had been displaced by the crisis. We launched a ‘matching’ scheme to facilitate introductions between Ukrainian and UK colleagues, so that our people could offer accommodation through the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. We also set up communication channels to connect our people who are sponsoring refugees through the scheme.

Emergency evacuation and a legal first

As well as working out how to help our own Ukraine based staff displaced from their home country, it quickly became clear that our clients were having the similar issues and needed our expertise to help people escape from the conflict quickly.

In the days before the Russian invasion in February, Ukrainian-born, London-based Deloitte colleague, Svitlana Hauser and the Deloitte Immigration team stepped in to help one of their clients. Concerned for the welfare of its Ukrainian employees’ and their families, the company wanted to evacuate them urgently.

Svitlana is a director in our UK Immigration Practice within Deloitte’s Tax & Legal team. She has been using her specialist knowledge of immigration law to help some of her country’s 8.7 million refugees – and bringing the wider expertise of colleagues across Deloitte to do so too.

While most had already managed to leave Ukraine, there were others without the right paperwork, such as those with newborn babies, who had stayed behind. Svitlana and the Deloitte team started talking to Ukrainian authorities to find a solution, but once war broke out, the government stopped working. This made it impossible to get new documents like passports or birth certificates.

A few days later, authorities told citizens to leave without their papers, signalling not only the start of the physical journey out of the country, but also an unprecedented legal journey.

“Being Ukrainian, and with my family still there, it was important for me to be involved.

“Initially, the majority of people leaving Ukraine were moved to Warsaw, Poland.

“The government there was one of the quickest to accept refugees from Ukraine. With our colleagues from the Deloitte Immigration team in Poland, we spoke with the Polish immigration authority to understand the options for these people.

“It’s been such a traumatic experience for people leaving Ukraine; it hasn’t just been about knowing the law, but also being able to say, ‘everything will be fine, we will get through this.’

"The European Union agreed to activate the 2001 EU Temporary Protection Directive for the first time on 4 March 2022 - an exceptional measure never used before. It gives the holder the right of residence, work, accommodation and means of subsistence in EU member states for a year, with the possibility to extend for another.

“The directive says that Ukrainians can travel to any country in the EU and should be able to apply for Temporary Protection in another EU country. However, Temporary Protection is so new that many don’t know how it works so, in practice, it’s not so easy.”


Mobilising help on the ground


Using this experience, the Deloitte Immigration team quickly set up hotlines for clients so that Ukrainian employees, relatives, and friends can reach out for support.

To date, Svitlana and the wider Deloitte team have helped hundreds of people. Twice, Svitlana has personally volunteered on the ground, with a group of psychologists and lawyers who offered psychological support and legal advice on Ukraine’s border.

“Most refugees had been walking for hours and could not talk at first,” she recalls. “They were distressed and needed to be reassured they were safe. The most common question I was asked was ‘where do I go next?’ It helped me see the real value of my legal profession as I could apply that knowledge and skill.”

Country-by-country guidance for those affected


Through this work, Svitlana gained valuable, practical information on the requirements and rules relating to Ukrainian refugees, allowing the Deloitte Immigration team to then prepare a practical paper summarising the options for Ukrainian nationals in every European country as well as the US, Canada, USA, and Brazil. It explains what the Temporary Protection Directive is and how it works in each location.




Katy Barrass

PR Manager

020 7007 7916

Email Katy

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