Two Bedfordshire women join forces to get aid to Ukraine refugees

"It’s been a steep learning curve but we’re like a well-oiled machine now"

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 10:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 10:54 am

When two women from Central Bedfordshire discovered they were both collecting for Ukraine they decided to join forces.

Katarzyna Southin from Clophill and Emily Roberts from Barton have now set up the Central Beds Ukraine Appeal

And with the help of a team of over 50 volunteers they’ve co-ordinated more than 100 tonnes of food, clothes and medical supplies headed for Poland and Moldova.

Katarzyna Southin and Emily Roberts

Katarzyna, 41 - originally from Poland - said: "It’s been amazing. When we started it was just the two of us collecting donations from friends and neighbours.

"We had no idea it would get so big but more and more people came forward to join us. The generosity of local people who are giving donations and their time is staggering."

The organisation includes a team of volunteers who sort, pack and label supplies that are loaded on to vans and lorries bound for a Polish collection centre in London.

Supplies include torches, batteries, First Aid kits, toiletries, pet food, wheelchairs and sweets for the children. There are also volunteer drivers who take donations direct to Poland and Moldova.

More than 100 tonnes of food, clothes and medical supplies are headed for Poland and Moldova

Emily, 30, said: "We had to get organised really quickly and figure out all the logistics. It’s been a steep learning curve but we’re like a well-oiled machine now. So many amazing people in the community have stepped up to help us – too many to mention – we absolutely couldn’t have done this without them.’

Donations big and small have been flooding in – including more than 33,000 oxygen masks and tubes from one local business and a supply of dried food from Barton school children after they held a ‘bring a Pot Noodle to school’ day.

Katarzyna and Emily are committed to continuing their support when refugees arrive in the county.

They’re organising a central hub where people can get information on how to help Ukraine families with things like sorting out schooling and finding employment.

Katarzyna, who has registered to host a family, added: "We’ll keep going for as long we’re needed.

"Emily and I are so busy we hardly have time to sleep but we’re not going to stop. We’re going to do absolutely everything we can to welcome Ukraine people to Bedfordshire and make them feel safe and settled here."