“We must be with Ukrainian people”: how Scottish fund Siobhans Trust unites the volunteers from the whole world to help people Ukraine

Olga Kovtun
“We must be with Ukrainian people”: how Scottish fund Siobhans Trust unites the volunteers from the whole world to help people Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, the news of Russia's full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine shook the world. Since then, millions of Ukrainians have become forced migrants both abroad and inside the country.  

David Fox-Pitt volunteer and founder of the British charity Siobhans Trust followed the news about Ukraine at home in Scotland. At the beginning of March, he decided that the best way to help Ukrainians now is to act and be among the people who are in the cities and towns destroyed by Russian bombs and artillery.  

Siobhans Trust was established in 2020 in memory of Scottish countess and designer Siobhan Dundee -  an art lover who supported artists and art organization in Dundee. The Scots remember her as a woman who loved to listen to the stories of young people and always wanted to help, and also they are grateful to her for the restoration of the local Birkhill Castle and its garden. The countess organized charity evenings and provided a shelter to a Syrian refugee family there.   

Since then, Siobhans Trust want to continue its values by supporting youth and global projects related to environment safety. Since February, 2022, all charitable contributions to the fund are directed to volunteer activities in Ukraine.   

Journalist Olga Kovtun spoke with Siobhans Trust volunteers about personal motivation and the path to volunteering, life in war conditions and plans for the future.   


David Fox-Pitt has an experience in event planning and catering. He quickly assembled all the necessary vehicles for volunteer purposes, including a mobile pizza oven and trailers with clothes and food for the migrants. The Siobhans Trust team traveled from Scotland to the Polish-Ukrainian border to distribute pizza, burgers and spaghetti to refugees.  

While volunteering at the border, Fox-Pitt decided that their activities could be useful in Ukrainian cities as well. Having created a temporary headquarters in Lviv, the Siobhans Trust team is going on a trip to Ukraine — visiting Kharkiv region, Kyiv region, Odesa region, Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro. David Fox gives the interview from Ivankiv town in the Kyiv region., which was under occupation for more that a moth in the spring of 2022. 

 Volunteer actively write about their experience and communication with Ukrainians on the fund’s page on Instagram. According to David, social media is the way that people from different countries learn about their activities in Ukraine and write about their desire to join. Now Siobhans Trust unites volunteers from different continents —  Europe, USA, Africa, Canada. 

“It is extremely important that Ukrainians see people from other countries who come to help. We distribute food, hug, dance together. I show Scottish dances”, — says Fox-Pitt. He adds, that the main mission of Siobhans Trust is to raise the spirit of Ukrainians, strengthen confidence and give love. Thus, Ukrainians know that they are not alone in their struggle. 

The team of the charitable foundation always needs the volunteers and funds. Those who can join for a short period of time and those who are ready to work long-term. “It is quite an expensive operation that costs money and we have to make it work. Sometimes we can feed more than 3,000 people a day”, — David Fox-Pitt says. 

Siobhans Trust volunteers travel to all parts of Ukraine, in particular to the front-line areas and cities that are most shelled and where there is a high risk of damage. David tries not to think about the potential danger, otherwise it would be counterproductive. “We focus on helping people. Either way, sometimes there is a fear, but we should not let it stop us”, — says Fox-Pitt. 

Many volunteers of the charitable foundation are going to stay in Ukraine for the winter. David points out that this is important message for Putin:”We will not surrender, we will not succumb to his violence and threats. This man understands only the language of the power. He should not get a single piece of land, there is no need to negotiate with him. It’s finished with him. The Ukrainian people showed an incredible strength of resistance, showed their courage, and that what we love them for. That is why we are here now. We must be with Ukrainian people.”  Our mission — Make Pizza, Not war and it is important for us to be here until the end. 

The volunteer is convinced that the Russians will leave Ukraine lands. However, the task of his foundation will not end there — Siobhans Trust is ready to join the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, to work for the country’s integration into Europe and its security. 

According to the man, the message to the West that the war continues is equally important. “Over time, the news about Ukraine has stopped being the #1 topic in the morning papers, and people are asking if there’s a war”, — says David. 

A country musician from Nashville and Scottish sea captain are volunteers in Ukraine

In his ordinary life, the Scotsman Tom Hughes is a sea captain. Nowadays, he volunteers in Ukraine with Siobhans Trust. In March, Tom joined Fox-Pitt’s initiative to drive a pizza van to the Polish-Ukrainian border. 

Tom Hughes reminds how Harry, a close friend and son of Shibon Dundee, called him in early March:”I asked, if I could come and help because there are a lot of people in a desperate situation. I went to the border, where we worked for two months. Then they thought that they could do the same directly on the territory of Ukraine”. 

At first, these were day trips. Volunteers realised that it gives a result — they were able to cheer up people who lost their homes, give them warmth and be a moral support. In Lviv, Siobhan Trust purchased additional trucks, started making new connections and expanding its activities. 

“Ukraine is doing a great job for all of us. It would be impossible to turn away. What we are doing is a trifle compared to the struggle of the Ukrainians”, says Hughes. 

The Scotsman says he loves Ukraine, the hospitality and warmth of the people. “I think I’ve already tasted five hundred types of borshch in different places in Ukraine”, says the volunteer jokingly. 

According to Tom, until February 24, most people in Great Britain had no idea that such a war could happen now in Europe. “I remember how at that time I was at home and just wanted to do something”. Hughes has been to Ukraine for more than six months and plans to stay at least until April 2023. 

Audrey McAlpine, a singer and musician from Tennessee, USA, talks about her volunteer experience in Ukraine in one of the kindergartens in the Dnipropetrovsk region, where the Siobhans Trust team found temporary shelter. During the day, they treat locals to pizza in the town square. 

Audrey recalls February 24, when she learned of the full-scale invasion during a concert in Nashville. 

“The Russians came close to Kyiv and it looked like the beginning of the Third World War. At the moment, I knew that I wanted to come to Ukraine and help. I saw that people join the Foreign Legion, but I don’t have a military background”, — the singer says. 

After researching how to volunteer in Ukraine, McAlpine traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border where she joined Siobhans Trust. The volunteer admits that sometimes she closes her eyes and cannot believe that all this is happening to her and that she is in Ukraine during wartime. However, this experience seems valuable to her. 

“After everything I saw in Ukraine, life in the USA seems meaningless to me. For one person to lose a home is a tragedy. In Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people are currently in the occupied territories and many remain in the front-line zone, because people simply have nowhere to go”, — says Audrey.

She remembers a trip to Kharkiv. While the team was preparing food, the sounds of artillery shelling the city could be heard. According to Audrey, it is important to help people especially in those places where the danger never disappears and there is not enough humanitarian aid. “We make pizzas. And this is where people need us the most. For someone, a simple smile and a small pizza party can lift the mood for the whole week”.

Volunteering in Ukraine became for the musician for the musician an activity that made her feel useful and necessary. She believes that after the war, Ukraine will definitely become a global superpower. 

Walking from Vilnius to Lviv to support friends in Ukraine 

Tom Fremantle is a British teacher and friends of David Fox-Pitt. In his spare time, he has a hobby of hundreds of kilometres on foot in different parts of the world. In 2018, he actually made a trip around the world, walking thousands of miles – in Europe, the United States and the Middle East. The overall goal is to walk 16,500 miles. In 2020, he planned to visit Ukraine, but a pandemic broke out in the world due to COVID-19. Tom Fremantle returned to his idea two years later, already working as a teacher in Taiwan. 

In order to collect at least 2000 pounds, Fremantle decided to make a charity walking trip from Vilnius to Lviv. Tom Fremantle raised £3 000 for Siobhans Trust in September. In Kyiv, he joined the foundation and visited the destroyed cities. While there, Tom wrote:”War is most visible on the faces of people, especially children and the elderly. Some children are so traumatised that all the joy has been squeezed out of them . 

Fremantle is convinced that the only possible scenario of the end of the war is the expulsion of the Russian army from the territory of Ukraine.