Inside Ukraine Lifeline: 'One woman said this has changed her life'
- Credit: Terry Harris
Row upon row, hundreds of donated items are stacked at Ukraine Lifeline’s main warehouse and ready to help those in need.
As I took a trip to the Corkers site in Pymoor, the sheer scale of the operation is clearly evident, even on a quiet Thursday afternoon.
One volunteer, 80-year-old Janet, regularly helps arrange boxes of items ready to be distributed on lorries heading to the Polish-Ukrainian border.
“I could be down here six hours a day,” she said.
“I have seen some of these people face-to-face and they are some of the most courteous people you can ever imagine.”
Janet is playing her part alongside roughly 150 other volunteers, some from the likes of Stevenage, at the warehouse.
She feels in order to understand exactly how the operation works, people should be there “as often as they can”, with many working day and night, weekdays and weekends.
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“I enjoy being here, knowing I can do a little something to help those poor people,” Janet added.
Another volunteer has cooked over 200 meals for her colleagues to help them through their shifts.
From tinned foods and lip balm to pillow cases and cough medicine, perhaps one of the most fascinating items to be donated so far is a vintage first aid kit.
And after a brief discussion with other volunteers, we came to the conclusion the medical kit may have derived from the Second World War or before.
It is this product that summarises the thought that residents have gone to in their way of assisting Ukrainian refugees and those trapped in the country.
Ross Taylor, owner of Corkers who helped launch Ukraine Lifeline, has been in logistics for 26 years.
“This is the most incredibly professional operation in my whole logistics career,” he said.
“One woman said this has changed her life.”
Changing people’s lives, in this case the people of Ukraine, is gradually happening since the group began at the start of March.
Mr Taylor said the total value of donations to Ukraine Lifeline stands at around £2.3m, as more fully-loaded lorries prepare for a three to four-day trip to eastern Europe.
A label on one shelf inside the warehouse read ‘with love and prayers for your safety’.
This, a poignant message that could not be more apt with what Ukraine Lifeline are trying to give those desperate to begin a new life.