A SOCIAL worker in Forth Valley has launched an international network to support courageous fellow professionals impacted by the war in Ukraine.

Social Work for Peace has been set up by the University of Stirling's Professor Lena Dominelli, a world-renowned expert in disaster intervention and humanitarian aid.

The international network is seeking to help the courageous professionals and social work students who have remained in the country as well as those who have been forced to flee to safety.

Based at the university, the network is part of the Virtual Helpline for Disasters that social workers have activated during different types of natural disasters since 2010.

Prof Dominelli, who remains in regular contact with social workers in Ukraine, is asking qualified and registered social workers, as well as non-social workers, to sign up and volunteer.

She said: “Despite the overwhelming hardship, suffering and grief caused by the war, Ukrainians remain strong and committed to defending their country.

“Social workers strive to meet basic needs, re-establish livelihoods and communities, restore people’s human rights, secure social and environmental justice, and build peace while enduring curfews and continuous Russian bombing.

“Social Work for Peace aims to support this work by encouraging donations through organisations including the Ukrainian Red Cross and Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, to purchase food, water, medicines and power generators.

“We will also partner with medical practitioners responding to the medical needs of refugees, help schools to support children forced to flee traumatic conditions adjust to new cultural environments and educational systems, and provide training and guidance to local communities welcoming those displaced by the invasion.”

Supported by organisations such as the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and British Association of Social Workers (BASW), the network is offering practical aid at local, national and international levels.

It will also seek to prepare countries to welcome Ukrainian refugees, secure scholarships for social work students from Ukraine and gather teaching materials to share with social work educators who are continuing lessons in bunkers as they shelter from the war.

Ana, a social worker still in Ukraine, said: “After water, people ask us for information.

“So, if they come to your country, give them information, especially about what they can expect in the next 24 hours, so they can predict what they want to do.

“This information should include what documents they need, what they can expect, where they access housing and other services.

“And they must feel welcome.”

Those interested in helping Social Work for Peace can email lena.dominelli@stir.ac.uk.