Former Southampton Toys R Us store filled with aid supplies for Ukrainian refugees

  • Volunteers sort through boxes of supplies due to be sent to Mariupol, Ukraine

A derelict former toy store in Southampton which has been closed for more than three years has been transformed into donation centre for Ukrainian refugees.

The Toys R Us store on Western Esplanade has been empty since the company went into administration in 2018.

Now the site has been made available to the Polish Social Club who have been inundated with donations for refugees.

Volunteers have been taking in thousands of goods including first aid equipment, painkillers, baby food, and clothes.

Boxes of clothes are divided up ready to be sent to Mariupol

The goods will be sent via Poland, with Mariupol the final destination, where many Russian forces have dropped bombs amid their invasion of Ukraine.

The latest aid effort is being organised by groups including the Polish Social Club. The former toy store is being used as a hub for donations from across the city and further afield.

There is an estimated 20 tonnes of goods which have already been donated, with volunteers admitting they are already running out of space.

The warehouse is due to be redeveloped in the autumn as part of the the £200 million Maritime Gateway development which will see the former store turned into new homes and offices.

The vacant building is currently being used by the Polish Social Club to store donations that are being sent off in lorry loads to Ukraine. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Paulina Kozlowska, Polish Social Club, said: "The Polish Social Club would like to thank everyone for all of their donations which has meant that we were in need of a bigger warehouse to coordinate what has turned into a huge local operation providing aid to Ukrainian refugees.

"We would also like to thank individual volunteers, smaller and larger organisations as we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.

“Donated goods have already been received by those in need in Poland and Ukraine and we continue to receive donations with more lorries leaving every week."

  • Daniel Fitzhenry, Leader, Southampton City Council

Leader of the Council, Councillor Daniel Fitzhenry, said: “Since the beginning of this unprovoked attack on Ukraine, we have been doing everything we can to not only stand with those affected by this crisis but also support the humanitarian aid response in any way we can.

“I would like to give my personal thanks not only to everyone across the city who has donated goods or their time to this cause, but also to our Council officers who have gone above and beyond to make this happen in such a short amount of time."