Ministers show support for Ukraine with tattoos

Last Updated on 4 March 2022 by Ann-Marie Nye

In a show of support for those in and fleeing Ukraine, United Reformed Church ministers, the Revds Alex and Jo Clare-Young have had tattoos of peace symbols inked onto their skin.

The move was in response to a Ukrainian tattoo artist’s appeal on Instagram.

Katy, a Ukrainian member of the team at Inked Moose Tattoo Art Studio in Milton Keynes, launched a campaign following the devasting Russian invasion.

Katy, who still has family living there, invited people to visit the studio on 28 February, to get a small tattoo that represented either Ukraine or peace. All the money from tattoos that day were donated directly to Ukraine. Several other artists in the area joined her.

Alex, who is soon to be inducted as Pioneer Minister in Cambridge city centre, said: “Originally the plan was that I would get a tattoo done, but when I picked Jo up from her pastoral group meeting, where they had been talking about Ukraine and the tattoo project, Jo decided to get one too.”

The appeal was similar to one launched for victims of the Manchester Bombing, where people got tattoos of the city’s bee symbol as part of a fundraising initiative.

“The tattoo artists were very amused and pleased that Jo [Minister of Newport Pagnell and West End] came in her clerical collar.

“My tattoo is the peace sign, which was designed by Gerald Holtom in the face of nuclear war, who said, citing Francisco Goya’s ‘The Third of May 1808’:

‘I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.’

“Jo’s tattoo is a dove for peace. We both got tattoos in visible places, as we feel our convictions, as ministers, should be visible.

“The fee we paid goes directly to a network of families and friends of those in Ukraine, who are then able to directly purchase the goods they need. We felt this was an effective alternative to charity donation, which has immediate benefits. Katy also hoped that when she sent the pictures of people’s tattoos to her family in Ukraine they would feel the tangible, visible support of people across the world.”

The Revd Alex Clare-Young with their new peace-symbol tattoo, along with the tattoo on Jo’s arm.

“We know our tattoos are a small gesture but feel that if people are encouraged to take whatever tiny steps they can, together these add up to much more.”

If you’d like to, there is a range of ways to help Ukrainians. Alex recommends visiting or contacting local support groups for Ukrainian people living in the UK.

“These can ensure that support is given directly where and when it is needed,” says Alex. “This is both faster and more transparent than donating to charities, though that is obviously immensely helpful too.”

If you would like to donate to a charity, this report has a range of details.

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