Psychologist hopes £200k project bid flies high amid Ukraine crisis

Mark Walsh and wife Daria of Ukraine

Mark Walsh has launched 'Sane Ukraine' to help provide trauma education to people in the country. Pictured is Mark with wife Daria, of Ukraine. - Credit: Mark Walsh

A psychologist from Cambridgeshire whose wife’s parents fled Ukraine is bidding to raise £200,000 to train people to help others deal with trauma they are facing. 

Mark Walsh, who grew up in Soham, runs Embodiment Unlimited which helps deliver psychological training, including stress management. 

“Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching the news feeling powerless and my wife’s parents were refugees, so I thought I need to do something,” he said. 

Mark, whose wife Daria and her parents are from Ukraine, set up a project called ‘Sane Ukraine’ around a week ago. 

Mark Walsh with wife Daria and family

Mark (second from left) with wife Daria and her parents, who fled Ukraine. - Credit: Mark Walsh

The ex-Soham Village College pupil aims to train 20 Ukrainian psychological resilience and trauma educators in Lviv in western Ukraine. 

So far, he has raised over $34,000, or £26,000 towards paying the 20 trainers to continue their work for a year, as well as for medical supplies to a children’s hospital in Lviv. 

“I met my wife, who was my interpreter, in Ukraine while I was out there as a psychologist,” said Mark. 

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“There are around 20 volunteers around the world helping with fundraising, logistics etc. 

Mark Walsh in Poland

Mark with medical supplies in Polan ready to take to Ukraine. - Credit: Mark Walsh

“It’s very personal as well as professional.” 

Mark has travelled to countries such as Afghanistan and Sierra Leone offering his services as a psychologist and resilience and trauma trainer. 

He is currently in Poland, which has seen over one million refugees arrive from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last month, before travelling to Ukraine on March 14. 

“This is the fifth warzone I’ve worked in,” Mark said.  

“We hope to train 50,000 people in Ukraine in the next year and that is why we’re raising the funds as they can’t do it as a hobby.” 

Mark Walsh in Sierra Leone

Mark Walsh has previously worked in countries like Sierra Leone as a psychologist. - Credit: Mark Walsh

Mark Walsh formerly of Soham in Ethiopia

Mark Walsh has travelled to different countries as part of his work as a psychologist, including in Ethiopia. - Credit: Mark Walsh

Friends back in the UK have shown their support for Mark’s project, which takes shape when he plans to stay in Ukraine for three weeks. 

Daria’s parents have since fled to Poland where Mark has been humbled by the appreciation of refugees, just for giving company. 

It is this emotional support that he looks to provide as Ukrainians try to deal with conflict. 

Mark Walsh in Ukraine

Mark has also previously trained in Ukraine. - Credit: Mark Walsh

“I think it gives hope to give people through that emotional support,” Mark added. 

“The project is going fantastically and we’ll keep fundraising after the year passes, but who knows what will happen between now and then. “ 

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