Charities urge people to donate aid to Ukraine and become host families, as numbers wane

  • ITV Meridian's Grace Williams went to see the volunteers taking aid to Poland

As the war in Ukraine rages on, one charity in Hampshire is urging people to continue to give aid and say donations have declined.

New Forest for Ukraine, based in Lymington, was set up when the war started nine months ago.

Their team of volunteers collect donations from 20 drop-off sites across Hampshire.

The aid is then sorted into boxes, which are labelled and ready to be transported to Poland for Ukrainian refugees.

John Stanton, Lead Coordinator, New Forest for Ukraine said the requirements for donations have changed when compared to the start of the war.

He said: "In the early days it really was food, medical supplies and nappies - real basic requirements. Now, they're all still needed but what we've found is that it's evolved over time. One of the big requirements at the moment is things for Ukraine in the bomb shelters, so warm winter clothing, torches, battery packs, those sort of things for when people are without power.

"Two months in, we had a call saying people really wanted flip flops. We found that a lot of the refugees in the centres in Poland needed them to go to the communal showers. That's one of the beauties about our connection in Poland, we actually know the latest requirements and we can respond to them."

Volunteers have said the requirements for aid has changed since the war in Ukraine began Credit: ITV Meridian

Paulina Gruszka volunteers at the charity and has family in Ukraine. She uses her local knowledge to identify what the refugees really need, which the charity then provide.

She said the cost of living crisis has impacted the amount people are donating.

She said: "There was a big boom at the beginning and everyone wanted to help and now it has eased off. We found it here in the hub that people stopped donating because they feel they have given enough already.

"Now when people are actually losing their homes and they have to move into the shelters or basements, now they've lost pretty much everything and now the aid is most needed."

Once the donations are sorted, the items are tightly packed into vans, which are driven to Eden Aid in Oxford.

The two charities in the south joined forces two months ago.

Volunteers at Eden Aid squeeze the supplies into mini buses, which are then driven for more than 17 hours to reach Poznań in Poland.

People working at refugees centres eagerly unload and distribute the aid to those who need it.

Volunteers at Eden Aid pictured with those working at the refugee centre in Poznań, Poland Credit: Eden Aid

In turn, Eden Aid fills its mini buses with Ukrainian refugees, who have visas and host families, and bring them back to the UK.

The last return journey with refugees will take place in the first week of November, due to the winter weather and a lack of host families.

Troels Henriksen, Eden Aid, said: "We've seen a huge drop off in the number of people able to come to the UK and the main reason for that is that there are just no more hosts left. So we have a huge demand in terms of Ukrainians wanting to come, but we just don't have any hosts and that is definitely going to be our next focus for Eden Aid, is actually going out there and finding new hosts.

"If people have agreed to host but have never been matched with a refugee, if you are in that situation, we would love to talk to you because we will find you a Ukrainian family."

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