‘We all stand tonight with one purpose’: Vigil for Ukraine held at York

‘We all just want peace’

A vigil in honour of the people of Ukraine took place at The University of York last night.

The event, hosted by the Amnesty International Society, was held to “show respect for all the lives lost in the conflict so far”. Following a minute’s silence, students read selected poems for peace then held an open mic for others to speak on the subject.

They were joined by a member of Amnesty International York, who praised the “great act of solidarity”.

Attendees gathered in Greg’s Place, University of York at 7pm, collecting electric candles, sunflower pins and signs from the organisers. The event then began with a minute’s silence to reflect on those lost so far, as well as everyone affected by the conflict.

A member of Amnesty International York then spoke to the crowd, reflecting on what a vigil means to him. He said: “We all stand tonight with one purpose of solidarity with the people suffering so terribly from Ukraine.”

“We are all people of emotion with hopes and with fears, and just to stand as we are doing with our candle, together in silence and sharing is a great act of solidarity”. He went on to thank the Amnesty International Society for their work within the university in response to the crisis.



A member of Amnesty International York speaking to attendees

Students, including members from Amnesty, the Literature Society, and TedX York then stood to read a variety of poems, mostly from Ukrainian poets, on the topic on conflict and peace. These included Wildpeace by Yehuda Amichai and two from the Words for War collection of poems from Ukraine.

Each reading was greeted with applause by attendees, and the section concluded with an original piece read by Jake from the International Creative Writing Society.

The event then moved into an open mic section, in which a Russian student, Toby, stood to share his thoughts on the “horrible tragedy”. He asked attendees to understand that the Russian people “don’t want this war either, we all just want peace”. He drew attention to the mandatory military service in place in Russia and expressed his concern for his two brothers in the country, both of age to be drafted.

One student told The York Tab: “It was heartwarming to see a union of students and staff join together in solidarity”, and that “it was nice to hear a variety of perspectives from different speakers along with some poetry to give remembrance to those who have already sadly lost their lives in the war with Russia”

The event concluded with a series of thanks, before advertising an open lecture by Dr Shane O’Rourke taking place tomorrow evening on the conflict from a historical perspective, tickets for which are available to book for free. After a final round of applause attendees thanked the speakers as donations were collected to go toward the aid being carried out by Amnesty International in response to the conflict.

One student told The York Tab they were “thankful to Amnesty International and the Amnesty International society for organising the event on such short notice”.

Ways you can help the people of Ukraine include remaining informed on the situation and vigilant about information shared on social mediadonating money to verified organisations and providing supplies for Ukrainian residentsFor more information about how you can get involved, click here.  

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• ‘Donate whatever you are able to’: A Ukraine donation drive has been set up at York