Meet the Northamptonshire volunteer group who are showing support for Ukraine

The group collect and ship goods to those in need in Ukraine

By Callum Faulds
Monday, 20th June 2022, 6:00 am
Northamptonshire Help for Ukraine
Northamptonshire Help for Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, marking a major escalation of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014.

The invasion has caused one of the largest refugee crises in European history.

According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), as of May 15, more than six million people have left Ukraine and according to the IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre), as of May 3, over eight million people were estimated to have been internally displaced in Ukraine since February 24 2022.

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Palletised goods sent to Ukraine

Northamptonshire Help for Ukraine is a group that was set up to show and co-ordinate support for Ukraine in the Northamptonshire area.

The group is run by six main co-ordinators: Sabina Bazaud, Monica Petry, Wiktoria Gwiazda, Adam Gwiazda, Bozena, and Aneta. There’s also additional co-ordinators Annette Henderson, Rob Cannon, and Alex Cheasley. Magdalena Paćko was one of the initial co-ordinators, who was very involved then. She’s helping with some things in the background still.

Sabina Bazaud said: “We kind of wanted to get together, a few of us, to send just one van of goods. That was the initial idea.”

But the idea grew.

Goods to be sent to Ukraine being loaded onto a lorry

“When we started collecting the goods, it became obvious quite quickly that it was going to be bigger. We were receiving quite a lot of donations, so we had to swap out the van for a lorry.

“During this period there were Ukrainian people stranded in Rothwell, a number of people and trucks.

“I went to see them and we had a chat and agreed to help send them back and help raise money for the petrol.

“It was two very busy weeks at the time. We collected a lot of goods in our homes and then we were transferring them to them.

Goods sent to Ukraine

“We actually had to move the trucks at the time from that location because it was dangerous.”

Sabina and the group worked with local councillors to find the right space and found a warehouse in Kettering which kindly agreed to allow the trucks in, where they could be loaded with goods.

“But we didn’t stop because we were still receiving quite a lot of collections, so we decided that we would continue.”

They’ve since moved their operation to a warehouse in Burton Latimer.

Currently the way their operation works is through the use of drop-off points, which volunteers help to run.

“We have quite a few people who work with us, we’ve got drop off points where they collect and sort things out for us. We collect the items from them and then transfer them to the warehouse.“

There are a number of drop-off points scattered across north Northamptonshire. They are in Kettering, Burton Latimer, Mawsley, Wellingborough, Irchester, Rothwell, Thrapston, and Raunds.

The drop-off points do change frequently but an updated list can always be viewed on the Northamptonshire Help for Ukraine Facebook page.

Once the goods are sent to Ukraine they are distributed to those who need them most.

“We have some contacts there who distribute them. They go to the distribution centres and the volunteers that send things further.

“They’re connected to the territorial army as well as the army and they send goods to the front lines as well and to the regions in Ukraine where they are being sieged.

“There’s alot going on over there, so we’re just helping get the goods to them.”

Northamptonshire Help for Ukraine tries to post everything it can on its Facebook page.

“We try to add a lot of information and show where those goods are going because the guys are really good at sending us the photographs and videos of how they distribute the donations and where it goes to.

“There’s a lot of information on there, a lot of transparent information, we want to make sure people know where things are going.”

They have also been working with other groups in the UK to help further the cause.

“We’re trying to be open to everybody – to work together.

“We’ve been connecting with other charities and groups of volunteers, many people are doing great great things and we keep in touch with them and try to help each other.

“We like to collect with other groups, we’ve been working with lots of them and we work together, they’ll donate goods to us and we’ll donate goods to them.”

They’re hoping to continue for as long as they can. Even if they are not always managing the collections, they believe they can still help going forwards.

“We will continue for now. For the time being we have this warehouse and we’d like to utilise it but even if we don’t send the goods ourselves, we have a few contacts, we will still support.

“We’re not stopping. We get a lot of requests from people in the scheme, people applying for visas looking for sponsors. We connect them with the groups who are more specialised in that domain. It may change a bit going forwards.”

Sabina is very proud of what they have achieved so far.

“We’re just people who wanted to do something together to be honest. I personally am really pleased with the outcome and the fact that we actually managed to send the first truck. But also I think it gave many people a purpose and with their free time they did something nice and I’m overwhelmed by the amount of donations and help and people joining in, it’s really nice to see.”

“I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support from individuals, smaller and bigger businesses, local or not so local charities and organisations, and local reps.”

If you would like to donate items to Northamptonshire Help for Ukraine visit their Facebook group to view their current drop off locations. They also accept monetary donations and have a collection pot link that you can use.