North West Somerset Initiatives

Some information from W Bro George Reed

So what’s happening?

  • Local Ukrainians in WSM, on a Community Group Face Book page, asked for humanitarian donations of food, clothing, blankets, sanitary items, minor first aid medical items, painkillers, sticking plasters and bandages, and a plethora of item for babies, i.e. nappies, milk, feeding bottles, etc. to help support Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian invading forces.
  • The response grew quickly and massively, and outstripped their ability to cope without support.
  • Within a day they had quite literally filled their home and an empty 3 bed house.
  • N. Somerset Council were approached and funded circa 800 mtr3 self-storage unit for the overflow, this has also been filled to maximum in short order.
  • The original plan was to send all donations to London who were coordinating the UK response, however London has been inundated with donations and has had to stop taking any further deliveries. Groups outside London have had to make alternative arrangements.
  • Berlinda Eggington is part of the Yatton Community Group, and became involved when volunteers were being sought; during an ideas session, she was asked to take charge of the operation. She and her husband moved to Yatton, I believe from Cambridge or Kent about 5 years ago, he is a Mason but has not been active since coming to Somerset. I believe it is this association that led to the inclusion of Masons when looking for support.
  • Current situation:
    • There are now a number of local business people involved who are providing people, facilities, vehicles and funding.
    • 2 Sprinter vans left for Poland this week full of humanitarian aid.
    • We have filled all available storage space including three large farm machinery buildings near Kingston Seymore. To enable this the owner has very kindly moved his collection of vintage tractors outside.
    • We are building a load for a 40foot articulated lorry leaving on Tuesday next week.
    • Every bag, box and bundle has to be opened and separated into categories, and we have to ensure that no forbidden items, drugs, dangerous goods, etc. have been included, the painkiller Zapain and other opiates cannot be imported into Europe. Customs sniffer dogs detect Ibuprofen as an opiate, we can legally move these as long as they are declared, but we find people have emptied their bathroom cabinets into the donation bags, and if Ibuprofen is detected at the boarder the consignment will be stopped and every bag and box opened and searched, thus delaying or preventing the whole operation.

Help and Finance

  • At the moment we have enough volunteers and funds to keep the operation moving forward, however it is expected to carry on for some time, and more hardy volunteers to help receive donations, and sort them, into containers for shipping to Poland will be needed. I also foresee a need for funding once the initial activity passes. Everyone involved to date has been very supportive and there is no indication that any of them are putting limits on their support. However, I can envisage a situation where some charitable funding would be of great help. For Masonry this might be an issue since none of those involved are a Registered Charity, so access to Grand Charity coffers would not appear to be an option. That is unless, you know different?
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