Boy responds to Ukraine crisis with Shelter Snails fundraiser

Thomas Burns gets out his paint brushes to raise money for ShelterBox

28 March 2022

Press release - 28 March 2022


A schoolboy from Hampshire has come up with a creative way to help fundraise for a charity preparing emergency aid to people who’ve fled their homes in Ukraine.  

ShelterBox is based in Cornwall and provides shelter and other essential items to people all over the world who’ve lost their homes because of conflict or disaster. 

Concerned about people affected by the worsening humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe, 10-year-old Thomas Burns wanted to do something to help. 

Inspired by his love of collectible characters and hand painting models, the idea of decorated clay ‘Shelter Snails’ was devised and Thomas got out his painting pots. 

Thomas, who lives in Fleet, said: “Snails carry their homes on their backs, so it made sense to us that snails could help represent the idea of a shelter. 

“After a little experimenting with our designs, we had our first 13 Shelter Snails made. They sold out in just two days. 

“This week we’re busy making our second batch, which includes a few commissions for designs we’ve already created as well as football and character themed snails.” 

His proud Mum, Anna says: “Thomas and I really wanted to do something to help support the Ukrainian refugees. We went to the ShelterBox visitor centre on a family holiday to Cornwall when Thomas was 7 and we were all so amazed by the wonderful work going on. 

“When we saw that ShelterBox was helping people affected by the Ukraine crisis we were inspired to get our creative thinking caps on and come up with a novel way of raising funds to help the charity’s appeal.” 

The international disaster relief charity, which relies heavily on public donations, has been working in Poland and Moldova with partners to support people internally displaced in Ukraine as well as those who have crossed the border into neighbouring countries.  

It’s sending thousands of mattresses to ‘collective centres’ like schools, churches and sports centres in Lviv in western Ukraine. This will help people who have fled their homes in near freezing temperatures to keep warm at night. 

ShelterBox is also preparing to send aid to people living in damaged buildings. The charity is looking to provide shelter kits with tools and rope, high thermal blankets, solar lights, water carriers and other essential items to help people survive. 

As well as sending aid to people who have stayed in Ukraine or been displaced internally, ShelterBox will also be supporting refugees who have made the journey across Ukraine’s border with a neighbouring country.  

As the conflict continues, the needs of people reaching Ukraine’s borders is likely to be greater. These people are likely to be on the move, so ShelterBox is preparing essential items they can carry with them. 

Community Fundraising Officer for ShelterBox, Hollie Clements says: “The work we are doing to support people affected by the crisis in Ukraine, and people across the world who have lost their homes to disaster and conflict, is possible thanks to fundraisers like Thomas. 

“People can sometimes find it difficult to know how to help people in crises but raising money for charities and organisations with the means to get the right type of aid to where it’s needed most is often the best way. 

“We love Thomas’s fabulously and individually decorated Shelter Snails – sure to bring a smile to anyone’s day. What a fantastic way to fundraise to help others while raising awareness about what’s happening!” 

Thomas and his Mum have set up a dedicated page (www.facebook.com/sheltersnails) where people can buy their very own Shelter Snail and keep up to date with their creations. 

For more information about ShelterBox’s Ukraine fundraising appeal visit shelterbox.org. Any additional money raised will help ShelterBox provide emergency shelter to families affected by disaster around the world. 

As well as ShelterBox’s response to the crisis in Ukraine, the charity is also working in the Philippines, Yemen, Syria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Haiti.  

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