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North Wales beauty queen on why she’s booked an Airbnb in Ukraine this summer

Denbighshire’s Dianne Gibbons had already collected two carloads of donations for the Ukrainian relief effort – but she wanted to do more.

When she saw a post on Facebook about booking Airbnbs, as a way of sending money to war-affected Ukrainians, it seemed the perfect solution.

“My heart is crying for the people in Ukraine,” she said.

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“When I heard the country was looking for financial donations, I was reluctant to contribute via a charity because I know they take a percentage to help with running costs.

“I wanted all of my donation to go straight to the affected people.

“Although I’ve never used Airbnb, I thought it was a good way of helping ordinary Ukrainian people.”

People across the world have been booking Airbnbs in Ukraine as a means of sending money to the country’s resistance and relief efforts.

Late last week more than 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine by people who have no intention of traveling there, said Airbnb, which has waived all guest and host fees.

Dozens of supporters across North Wales have gifted money this way – but a warning has been issued for those thinking of following suit, with some fake accounts being created by scammers in an attempt to cash in



Dianne posted confirmation of the booking on her Facebook page

People who have already donated said it was a simple way of helping ordinary Ukrainians.

A Prestatyn woman who booked nights in Ukraine said it was a more direct and personal way of “easing the financial burden in these troubled times”.

“It’s tear-jerking when you get a message back thanking you,” she added.

Last week Dianne, 49, from Bodelwyddan, took clothes, toys and medical supplies to a collection center in Flintshire, part of the wider Wrexham-based effort organized by the Polish Integration Support Centre.

Items included wound closures bought from a local pharmacy, and three plastic-backed foil blankets Dianne and her two daughters made from empty crisp packets.

They are all prominent members of the North Wales pageant community, which collectively made and gifted 25 “crisp packet” blankets for the appeal.

Until last year Dianne reigned as Miss Great Britain Natural Beauty, and she is a finalist in this year’s Miss Natural Beauty Wales contest.



The reply Dianne received from her Airbnb host, and its Google translation
The reply Dianne received from her Airbnb host, and its Google translation

For her Airbnb booking, Dianne picked out a Kyiv resident with a single listing and plenty of reviews, and claimed a £28.10 night in June.

“I went for a private listing, not a company one, as I wanted an individual person to benefit,” she said.

“It also seemed more personal that way.”

COMMENT: A good way to help, or too risky? Have your say in the comments below.

Dianne had a couple of replies, in Ukrainian, which she translated.

One read: “Thank you very much for your support at such a difficult time for Ukraine.

“You are real friends!!! I wish you and your family health and peace.”

Dianne was moved by the response and urged her Airbnb host to use the money as she saw fit.

“I told them that, when this is all over, to cancel the booking and re-let the room,” she said.

Other people are canceling their rooms straight away, enabling Airbnb hosts to constantly re-let rooms to maximize donations.

Warning of fake accounts

Many hosts are genuine and some have offered to pass on donations to the wider community in Ukraine, including resistance fighters.

However, it’s being reported that fake accounts are being created by scammers in an attempt to cash in.

People are also being warned to make sure they are booking rooms owned by local Ukrainians – and not by property companies which, conceivably, could even be Russian owned.

Travel expert Simon Calder said the idea is likely to be a magnet for scammers.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “Lots of talk about booking random Airbnbs in Ukraine and paying for them with no intention of staying, to transfer cash to the country.

“Warning: we were I a Russian scammer, I would be setting up fake Airbnbs in Kiev and Odessa as fast as I could to cash in on those noble intentions.”

Donors should check reviews for the exact property they are booking, not of other properties from the same host.

They should also send messages or emails to hosts, letting them know what you are doing.

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