UK

UK veterans ‘hear jets and sirens’ at Kyiv sleep-out to raise funds for homeless

Dan Kaine, Matt Hooper and Mike O’Halloran have spent their first night outside in the Ukrainian capital.

Dan Kaine, Matt Hooper and Mike O’Halloran, travelled to Kyiv to sleep outside in sleeping bags for charity
Three people in sleeping bag slept on muddy ground Dan Kaine, Matt Hooper and Mike O’Halloran, travelled to Kyiv to sleep outside in sleeping bags for charity

Three British military veterans heard the sound of fighter jets and air raid sirens after sleeping a night outside in Kyiv to raise money for homeless Ukrainians.

Dan Kaine, 44, Matt Hooper, 44, and Mike O’Halloran, 53, travelled to the Ukrainian capital to sleep outside in sleeping bags on Friday and Saturday – within a secure compound to avoid breaking curfew laws.

The charity sleep-out aims to raise awareness of homeless and displaced Ukrainians living in the war zone while marking the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, which began on February 24 2022.

The men, whose faces and military career details cannot be shared for security reasons, are fundraising for the charity RE:ACT Disaster Response.

Military veterans Dan Kaine, Matt Hooper and Mike O’Halloran spent night one of their two-night sleep-out outside in Kyiv
Military veterans Military veterans Dan Kaine, Matt Hooper and Mike O’Halloran spent night one of their two-night sleep-out outside in Kyiv

Mr Kaine described the trio’s first night in a post on LinkedIn and said it began with the sound of fighter jets and air raid sirens on Friday.

The three men were escorted at around 7.30pm by Kyiv’s chief of police in Mykhailivs’ka to the secure compound where they spent the night.

Hours later, Mr Kaine saw a flash alert and described the moment, writing on LinkedIn: “At 21.47 hours the air raid sirens sounded across the capital, closely followed by an internal flash alert to inform us that 16 Shahed drones were in the air on a trajectory to hit targets in Kyiv.

“This was immediately preceded by the sound of fighter jets taking off from Kyiv Airport.”

The veterans saw another flash alert at around 4.47am to indicate Russian missiles had been destroyed by Ukraine.

Mr Kaine explained: “At 4.47 hours another flash alert had been received to inform us that overnight, 23 of 31 Shahed drones had been destroyed by Ukraine, meaning eight, unfortunately, made it to their targets; killing and injuring innocent civilians across the country.”

The men slept in sub-zero temperatures with only a sleeping bag and a mat “to make it as realistic as possible to experience what homeless people are going through outside in a war zone”, Mr Kaine, based in London, previously told the PA news agency.

He explained: “The rain then started at approximately 22.00 hours, with a noticeable drop in outside temperature, which when combined with wind chill, reduced it to just below zero degrees Celsius.”

“The roar of traffic from the highway, which skirts the river, merged with the gushes of wind blowing through the trees.

“The noise was amplified further when combined with the sound of each drop of rain which echoed through the waterproof covers protecting each of our sleeping bags.”

Mr Kaine added that the group struggled to sleep due to being “soaking wet” and attempting to keep warm amid freezing temperatures.

“At 05.00 hours, all three of us were wide awake. The ground was soaking wet, and the wind still blowing through the trees,” he said.

“Getting out of a warm sleeping bag into the cold is never a nice feeling!”

The trio will be using sleeping bags and mats to make the experience ‘as realistic as possible’
A photo of rucksacks and sleeping bags on a train platform in Ukraine The trio will be using sleeping bags and mats to make the experience ‘as realistic as possible’

Ukrainian police officers patrolled the area where the three veterans slept, which was in a secure compound to avoid breaking the wartime curfew.

“Due to the strict war curfew in place across Ukraine from midnight to 6.00 hours, the police chief instructed two police officers to check on us periodically, which they kindly did,” he said.

Mr Kaine described the night as uncomfortable and unenjoyable but said this achieved the fundraiser’s purpose to raise awareness about the conditions homeless Ukrainians face in their war-torn country.

“Being military veterans and no strangers to sleeping outside in war zones, I’m sure none of us mind admitting that even for us it was not a comfortable or enjoyable night,” he said.

“But, that’s the point of myself, Mike and Matthew doing this fundraiser.”

He added: “This experience will serve to raise funds for, and awareness of the struggles that thousands of civilians continue to face by being forced from their homes, in the dead of night, in below-freezing temperatures.”

The fundraiser has raised nearly £6,000 of its £10,000 target.

To find out more, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/veterans-sleepout-in-kyiv-to-raise-needed-funds