Advisers spearhead refugee aid project in Moldova

Advisers spearhead refugee aid project in Moldova
[AP Photo/Aurel Obreja] People fleeing from Ukraine leave the border crossing in Palanca, Moldova, in March

Three financial planners have called on their professional peers to help them in their efforts to supply aid to refugees in Moldova, a country which shares a 759-mile-long border with Ukraine.

Perceptive Planning managing directors Phil Billingham and his wife Shannon Currie, alongside Navigator Financial Planning managing director David Crozier, have turned their efforts to Moldova following their visits with supplies to Poland.

A former Soviet state, Moldova is a relatively small country with 2.6mn inhabitants. But being cheaper than other European countries and next door to Ukraine, it is an attractive spot for Ukrainian refugees to live. 

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“The Moldovans have done all they can, it’s time we helped,” Billingham told FTAdviser. “We were quite touched by the speeches of the Moldovan government when all this started. They’re a small country and they had a lot of refugees crossing through.

“We were concerned Poland was getting a lot of attention subsequent to us going. David, who went [to Poland] after us, saw a lot more infrastructure in place and cars on the road. It was clear Poland had transitioned into a more sustainable state.”

Back in March, Billingham and Currie drove supplies packed in a rental van through Germany to Przemyśl, one of Poland’s oldest southern cities, with the help of £4,500 raised from fellow planners and advisers.

Crozier followed in their footsteps the next month with help from author of The Behaviour Gap, financial planner Carl Richards.

It was in late May that Billingham and Currie realised the extent of support needed on the ground in Moldova, when they travelled to its capital Chișinău on holiday. 

“The country is one of the least visited, poorest countries in Europe, and it’s hard to get to,” Billingham explained.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Moldova received more than 350,000 Ukrainians fleeing into the country following Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.

While they were there, the couple donated money to the Dignity Centre alongside its umbrella organisation in Moldova, called ‘Moldova for Peace’. 

The Dignity Centre was set up by charity Refugees Support to help with the sudden arrival of Ukrainian refugees.

“We could see the money was being well-used. The project is run by energetic, tireless 20-somethings. The Dignity Centre focuses on necessities, feeding about 1,100 people a week.

“Moldova for the Peace is doing the same, but it is also looking at the bigger picture.”

Billingham, Currie and Crozier are buying a new van for the charity, which has been renting a car until now - putting a drain on resources.

“It’s really hard for people to get around Chișinău,” said Billingham, who plans to visit again in September to help drive people between villages and transport supplies.