A local resident has set up a county-wide Facebook group to share information about what and where people can donate to support refugees feeling Ukraine.
Magdalena Najman, from Teffont Magna, felt it was only natural to help the people of Ukraine and wanted to create a platform for information so others also knew how to help.
Now, Wiltshire for Ukraine has grown into a large community project that has already helped refugees with lorry loads of donations.
“The original aim of the group was to provide information to people in Salisbury and Wiltshire about what and where they can donate. I then decided to find a space for a donation event through Wiltshire Council and they kindly offered me a space in Fiver Rivers Leisure Centre in Salisbury.”
The two-day event on the 11th and 12th March saw over 50 volunteers help out and around 1,017 boxes of donations packed.
Sarah Sartin, from Solstice Play, offered her business as a drop off point in Amesbury.
“Very quickly this escalated into an army of some of the most wonderful people, not just in Wiltshire but nationwide, offering ways and means of helping to support.
“So far we have successfully loaded and delivered aid into Ukraine and Poland some directly from our hubs here in Wiltshire, and some aid being taken to other distribution sites in Bournemouth,” explained Sarah.
Sarah tells us that she has met with a brave Ukrainian Lorry driver who left to collect aid and was returning to fight.
“It seems so far away on the television, yet here I was, wishing him well as I waved him off to war. Watching from the comfort of our homes, if we don’t like what we see, we can switch it off – they cant.
“I will never forget that moment and that’s why we need to keep helping and supporting. Every little bit of help goes such a long way and we will make sure it gets to where it is needed,” said Sarah.
On Friday 18th March, Oz from Ozweld International and his wife Cathryn travelled to Poland to deliver some of the donations. From Salisbury to Kalisz, and back, the pair travelled around 2,000 miles, over 46 hours, with 116 boxes of supplies.
Speaking to Love Salisbury Oz and Cathryn said, “We kept each other going on the journey and you know you are doing it for such a good cause. We met Magdalena’s father, Tomex, who took the donations to be distributed to refugees.
“We met a couple of Ukrainian families who had been taken in my Tomex. There were two Ukrainian ladies with their children who were aged around six and 10 years old.
“Tomex was translating for us and the two ladies said, ‘we really appreciate it, thank you so much for helping us’. It was very tearful and very humbling. Most of them are arriving with one bag and they have nothing from their home and no possessions.
“We just wanted to do something to say we care, we are thinking of you and the British people are supporting you. If you can do it, do it. We are all just regular folk who want to help. It’s not much if everybody did a little something, it all snowballs.”
Today, (23rd March 2022) Magdalena herself will travel to Poland to take donations to schools in Ukraine so that refugee children are prepared with what they need to start school.
“Our main transport for all the donations is leaving on the 2nd of April and it is going with Salisbury Removals Company who have kindly donated a lorry, a driver and they are funding the trip themselves also.
“The aim is to get this into Ukraine itself. and this delivery will contain medical and survival items,” explained Magdalena.
The group have more supplies than they can fit onto the lorry, and are looking for additional support with transport.
“We probably have enough for another small lorry or another three vans. So we are still looking for a company that would like to go alongside Salisbury Removals on the 2nd April with the goods,” said Magdalena.
The group has also created a Go Fund Me fundraiser for monetary donations which will go directly to refugees that have settled in the UK or Poland.
“When I go to Poland the money will go to refugees there to start with. It is great that people give to big charities but there is a gap between big charities and the people receiving help.
“All the Go Fund Me Pages and donations allow us to bridge that gap and give this money directly, in cash, to people who need it right now.”
Going forward, Magdalena and the Wiltshire for Ukraine group would like to create a space in Salisbury where Ukrainian refugees who have settled down in Salisbury can meet for coffee.
“This will be all free and I will be relying on donations. As well as a meeting space I would like to have an area where we can store donations that are specifically targetted to the community of Ukrainian refugees who have settled in Salisbury and the surrounding villages.”
If you can offer your services to help transport donations to Poland or would like to get involved in any other way get in touch with Wiltshire for Ukraine at email@example.com