Britons give £55m to Ukraine appeal, but small groups inundated with supplies face challenge

UK volunteer groups have praised the “overwhelming” response from the public in support of people affected by the ongoing Ukraine invasion. 

On Friday, the Disasters Emergency Committee – an umbrella group for 15 charities – confirmed it had raised £55m within 24 hours of launching its appeal.

But smaller groups, set up by local community volunteers, have also been inundated with help.

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Sister and brother Jenny Hancock and Tom Jackson set up an aid drop-off point in a welding workshop in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

“We’ve felt very humbled to be part of it,” Ms Hancock, a PhD student, told Sky News. “It’s been amazing, overwhelming and quite emotional.”

They both have extended family in Ukraine. Mr Jackson, a welder, said: “Most of our female relatives and the children have now left the country, but the men have stayed to fight.

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“It’s through speaking with them that we have a good idea of what’s needed most right now.”

The workshop is stacked with boxes full of things like clothes, hygiene supplies and children’s toys that have all been donated by the local community.

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“What we’re in need of most now is medical supplies,” Ms Hancock said. “Things like bandages, plasters, thermal survival blankets, wound dressings and ointments.

“Solar chargers for phones and batteries are really useful and we’re also running low on things like baby formula.”

But some informal aid groups, like this one, are now faced with the challenge of getting the huge volume of donations to the frontline.

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Mr Jackson said: “We were working with the Ukraine Centre in Manchester but we’ve completely swamped them with aid, so now there’s this bottleneck of donations that we are struggling to get to where it’s really needed, to Ukraine or even to Poland.

“We have had lots of offer of colleagues willing to drive their cars and vans over but it’s just logistically not that sensible. We can get so much more in a lorry than we could in a car or a trailer.”

Ms Hancock added: “What we need right now is a lorry or haulage company to help us get this aid to where it’s desperately needed.”

People have been moved to act in ways both big and small.

The Yas Bean coffee shop, also in Macclesfield, donated 100% of the price of each cup of coffee purchased on Friday to a Ukrainian aid charity.

Owner Mika Johnson said customers have come especially to take part, adding: “People are kind at their very essence, and I think when you see what is happening overseas, most people have that compassion to put themselves in that position and want to help.

“What we’re doing here is a drop in the ocean to what other fundraising groups are doing, but it gives people somewhere to come, have a coffee, have a chat if they want to, and do some good at the same time.”

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