'Norwich has a history of helping': City donations en route to Ukrainians

Charities, communities and the city are pulling together to help Ukrainian refugees.

Charities, communities and the city are pulling together to help Ukrainian refugees. - Credit: Submitted

Piles of toiletries, warm clothes and baby products donated by city folk will reach the Polish border this week.  

People queued up in a city suburb to make the donations which will be transported to the border with Ukraine following the Russian invasion. 

The items have been donated to community interest company Norfolk Polonia, which runs the Norwich Polish Centre in West Earlham.

The community has pulled together and donated bags upon bags of essentials to Ukrainian refugees.

The community has pulled together and donated bags upon bags of essentials to Ukrainian refugees. - Credit: Paweł Jelenski

Its volunteers are then taking the items to London.  

From there the goods will be handed to a Polish restaurant which is driving the supplies and handing them out to families fleeing the conflict and who have left many of their possessions behind.  

Paweł Jelenski who is the co-director of Norfolk Polonia CIC, along with Dorota Darnell, said: "We have been full of donations and we sent everything to London today.

Paweł Jelenski, co-founder of Norfolk Polonia CIC, has had three fully-packed vans taken away filled with donations.

Paweł Jelenski, co-founder of Norfolk Polonia CIC, has had three fully-packed vans taken away filled with donations. - Credit: Paweł Jelenski

"The location was the Polish White Eagle Club, a restaurant in London who are taking everything to the Polish border. 

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"We had three fully-packed vans with blankets, cosmetics, hygiene products, sleeping bags and baby products." 

The donation station, which opened on Sunday, saw big-hearted city folk turning up with arms packed with offerings – so much so that the goods had to be piled up outside the Wilberforce Road community centre.  

Among them was Carol McWhinnie, founder of Food and Beverage Buggies (FABB) based in Norwich’s Daffodil Close.  

Carol McWhinnie, founder of FABB, says "None of this could have happened without the support of the people."

Carol McWhinnie, founder of FABB, says "None of this could have happened without the support of the people." - Credit: Carol McWhinnie

Having organised donations to her base she then transported them to West Earlham, adding: "Norwich has a history of helping people in need - we did it during the pandemic and they're doing it again - if someone is in genuine need the city pulls together to help. 

"I couldn't simply sit there and leave it when there are people who need it right now - personally my conscious wouldn't let me stand by and not do anything.” 

Just some of the items the community has donated to those in need.

Just some of the items the community has donated to those in need. - Credit: Paweł Jelenski

Ms McWhinnie has been overwhelmed at how the community has come together in another country's time of need. 

She said: "Norwich has always had a good community spirit and will happily pull together for the greater good. 

Volunteers sort through the donations in West Earlham

Volunteers sort through the donations in West Earlham - Credit: Submitted

"The situation is absolutely atrocious and shouldn't be happening in this day and age. 

"But it seems the whole world is against it and we'll continue to support those affected." 

How can people help Ukrainian refugees? 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine a number of organisations have set up appeals for people to help Ukrainian refugees still in the country, or attempting to flee to safety. 

The British Red Cross set up an emergency appeal for monetary donations to help those affected get food, medicines and basic medical supplies as well shelter and water. 

British-Ukrainian Aid supports people suffering from the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by aligning UK and Ukrainian efforts. 

The charity offers assistance to vulnerable people who have been physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged due to current events, including the injured and wounded, orphaned children and the elderly. 

PETA’s Global Compassion Fund are sending teams to the Polish border to provide on-site assistance, including shepherding animals to safety.  

Its team in Germany is coordinating a delivery of nearly two tons of animal food and blankets to shelters in Ukraine.