BEARR’s origins

BEARR stands for ‘British Emergency Aid to Russia and the Republics’, which was its role when it was set up informally in 1991 by a group of British women in Moscow. They wanted to help to mitigate the catastrophic effects on health and welfare of the collapse of the USSR and the communist system. The group initially became involved in transporting lorry-loads of medical and other supplies as relief to hard-hit citizens.


As this emergency need lessened, BEARR was set up more formally as a Trust and started to support the NGOs which were beginning to be established in the successor countries. It offered training and cooperation with relevant NGOs in the UK, and ran various projects funded by western governmental and charitable organisations.

Over the next few years BEARR, at the request of its supporters, focused on its role as a networking organisation to facilitate links between the many small charities set up in the UK and elsewhere and the charitable and non-governmental sector in these countries.

BEARR today

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BEARR still concentrates on health and social welfare issues, especially the care of vulnerable groups and reform of the ways the state looks after them. The Trust is based in the UK and managed by trustees with long experience of the countries of the region. It has many partners among small and medium-sized voluntary and charitable organisations in the region.

The main focus of its work is:

  • supporting organisations committed to reform in the health and social sectors
  • facilitating networking and exchange of information
  • encouraging sharing of experience and learning
  • helping organisations working in the region to identify potential partners
  • providing seed funding to help organisations to launch or extend partnerships
  • lobbying with and on behalf of organisations that share our objectives.

Click on this link to learn more:Trustee Nicola Ramsden’s interviewed about BEARR with Voice of Russia

The Aims of the BEARR Trust for 2016 – 2020 are to

  1. Ensure stable multi-year financing from multiple sources, including foundations, companies and individuals (the Friends Scheme).
  2. Maintain an adequate pool of competent volunteers.
  3. Develop and if possible expand the Small Grants Scheme, ensuring more rigorous monitoring and evaluation of projects.
  4. Expand networking activities, including by organising an annual workshop in BEARR’s region.
  5. Ensure that BEARR’s information technology, website and social media presence effectively and efficiently support our grant-making and networking activities.

The objectives of the BEARR Trust in 2016 are to:

  • Raise an additional £15,000 per annum, preferably on a multi-year basis, to develop and expand the Small Grants Scheme.
  • Expand BEARR’s network of trustees, patrons and volunteers.
  • Ensure that all BEARR’s volunteers have clear roles and feel supported by their managers.
  • Keep the BEARR website and Facebook page up to date and filled with content which maximises their usefulness to partners and colleagues; explore other social media possibilities.
  • Consolidate cooperation with the academic community in the UK and in the region, including through joint events.
  • Organise a London conference which helps NGOs in the UK and in the region to make and maintain contacts and exchange experiences, and which provides a forum for discussion of developments affecting NGOs in the region.
  • Organise a conference in Ukraine which helps local NGOs to network and share experiences of supporting people displaced by conflict.
  • Organise one or two public lectures to raise funds and maintain visibility for BEARR.
  • Issue two newsletters and monthly bulletins.

(December 2015)


The BEARR Trust is a UK registered charity, No. 1011086. Its governance is set out in a Trust Deed which is governed by English law and which provides that, within the framework of the aims of the Trust, policy and major executive decisions are made by the Trustees. For BEARR’s Governance Policies click here.

You can read BEARR’s latest Annual Report and Accounts on the website of the Charity Commission via this link: BEARR Trust

 Patrons  Trustees

The Duchess of Abercorn

Vladimir Ashkenazy

Elena Bashkirova Barenboim

Lady Ellen Dahrendorf

Myra Green OBE

Professor Geoffrey Hosking OBE

Bridget Kendall MBE

Sir Roderic Lyne KBE CMG

Sir Jonathan Miller

Mike Simmonds

Rair Simonyan

Dr Robert van Voren, PhD, FRCPsych (Hon)

Sir Andrew Wood GCMG

Andrea Bennett

Megan Bick

Robert Brinkley CMG (Chairman)

Ross Gill

Janet Gunn CMG

Marcia Levy

Ann Lewis CMG

Nicola Ramsden

Michael Rasell

Clare Reilly

Robert Scallon






About the trustees of The BEARR Trust

Robert Brinkley was a British diplomat for 34 years until 2011.  He spent about half this time working in or on the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine.  He was in the Moscow Embassy in Brezhnev’s USSR (1979-1982) and Yeltsin’s Russia (1996-1999), and was Ambassador to Ukraine from 2002 to 2006.  He speaks Russian and Ukrainian.  Since 2013 he has been on the Senate (board of management) of the Ukrainian Catholic University.image





Megan Bick has been working on civil society development in the region since starting as the first Moscow Director for the BEARR Trust in 1992. The main focus of her work is social inclusion of minorities and currently works as a trainer, project manager, programme evaluator for both local and international organisations.Megan






Ross Gill works in local economic development and regeneration in the UK and has also worked with a number of voluntary and community organisations. Ross has had a deep interest in Russia and Eastern Europe for several years, having first studied Russian and travelled in Russia and Ukraine in the 1990s. He is currently working part-time towards a PhD at Birkbeck.

Ross Gill 2

Janet Gunn was a research analyst in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for 36 years, specialising on the USSR, its successor states and Central and South-eastern Europe. Her overseas postings included Moscow, Kyiv and Dushanbe, and she worked later in the EU Border Assistance Mission to Ukraine and Moldova, based in Odesa. She has participated in many OSCE election observer missions in the region, and has undertaken project work for the OSCE in Ukraine. JFG 2






Ann Lewis is a retired member of HM Diplomatic Service. She worked mainly on Central and Eastern Europe, with postings in Moscow, Helsinki, East Berlin and the Cabinet Office, ending as Head of Cultural Relations. She is a Founder-Governor and Deputy Head of Governors of The English College in Prague, and Deputy head of Governors at St Clare’s Oxford. She has edited books on Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.


Marcia Levy was head of the Moscow office of an international law firm from 1991 to 1995, working on investment projects in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. She continued to work on projects in emerging markets, from London, until 2003. From 2004 until 2016 she was a Circuit Judge, specialising in family and criminal law.






Nicola Ramsden lived and worked in Moscow from 1992 to 1997 as manager of the Moscow office of an international accounting firm’s strategy consultancy. She worked in Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan on technical assistance projects including privatisation and capital markets development. She was President of Action for Russia’s Children (ARC) in 1996-1997.Nicola







Clare Reilly spent three years at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), including as Deputy Head of Fellowship and later at the Russian Donors Forum organising the first global forum for emerging market philanthropists in Peterhof, St Petersburg. Until 2014 Clare was Director of Development at a Moscow-based NGO working with orphaned children and is now Corporate Relations Manager for Citizens Advice. Clare has a Bachelors degree from UCL (SSEES) and a MSc from Oxford University in Russian and East European Studies.

Reilly 2

Robert Scallon was the Group Representative of Barclays Bank in Moscow for three years and then spent ten years travelling to Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Tashkent, Almaty, Bishkek, Ashkhabad, Tbilisi, Yerevan, Baku on business. He was treasurer of the Russo British Chamber of Commerce and a director of the Britain Russia Centre. He has been a trustee of FaRiG (Friends of Academic Research in Georgia) and a director of the British Georgian Society and HealthProm for many years. image






Anna Lukanina-Morgan is The BEARR Trust’s Information Officer.  Anna joined BEARR in September 2014. Anna has a Master’s degree in Law from Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko University.  She has worked for a USAID-funded Organisational Development Support Programme covering Ukraine. Moldova and Belarus; the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour; and as Legal Assistant to the Executive Director of the Commercial Law Centre, a USAID-funded NGO focusing on legal reform in Ukraine.

Since moving to the UK in 2014 Anna has worked part-time with Dash Arts, including on a programme involving the arts in Eastern Europe. She also manages a project “Ukrainian events in London” which aims to popularise Ukrainian culture in the UK and since August 2015 works at the Chatham House Russia and Eurasia Programme and the Ukraine Forum.

Anna at work_2012