How Ipswich's generosity is making a difference in Ukraine

Aid from Ipswich has been making its way to the people who need it most

Aid from Ipswich has been making its way to the people who need it most. This month, Edd Cottee, Dave Cole and Magdalena Chambers have all travelled to Eastern Europe and seen what a difference the town's generosity will make. - Credit: Patrycja Dziesinska

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, there have been many appeals in Ipswich for aid and funds to support refugees. Much of this aid has now arrived in the places that need it most. 

Magdalena Chambers, one of the directors at the town's Polish Community hub, travelled to her hometown of Ostróda this month, where a Christian camp has opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees. 

She has been organising collections together with Castle Hill Community Centre Trust.

So far, three lorries full of aid from Ipswich have driven to Ukraine, and £8,500 has been collected. 

Speaking with Magdalena, Bartech, one of the organisers at the camp in Ostróda, said the money Ipswich has raised will help the refugees get through the winter. 

“I want to say a big thank you to all of you from Ipswich. I’m impressed,” he said. “This is one of the biggest collections that we have had from any place in Europe.” 

Seeing her hometown full of refugees was, Magdalena said, “very emotional".

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“There are around 150 refugees there now, 100 of them children,” she said. “I worry for my own family too, because we don’t know how long this war is going to continue. 

“It’s important that we continue raising funds. Polish people are generous, and they’re good at providing physical help, but they don’t necessarily have the funds to provide financial support.” 

Meanwhile, Edd Cottee and Dave Cole left Ipswich in a van donated by John Grose on April 8. 

Edd and Dave visited a refugee camp in Poland near the Ukraine border. They met many people who have had to flee their homes

Edd and Dave visited a refugee camp in Poland near the Ukraine border. They met many people who have had to flee their homes, and saw first-hand what a difference their aid will make. - Credit: Dave Cole

Edd and Dave say they are exhausted from their trip, having driven over 2,500 miles in four days.

Edd and Dave say they are exhausted from their trip, having driven over 2,500 miles in four days. - Credit: Edd Cottee

Edd and Dave said that their visit to refugees in Lithuania and Poland was 'eye-opening.'

Edd and Dave said that their visit to refugees in Lithuania and Poland was 'eye-opening.' - Credit: Edd Cottee

They arrived in Lithuania two days later, delivering aid to Edd’s friend Andy Davies in the village of Alksniupiai.  

They continued south to a refugee camp in Lublin, Poland, a city not far from the Ukraine border.  

“We had about £1,200 left in the JustGiving fund, so we went to the local supermarket. We ended up filling six trollies,” said Edd. 

“It’s been a massively eye-opening experience. There was one point when we were driving down to the border, and there were coaches coming out of Ukraine into Poland, just full of women and children. 

“There were children staring out of the window. Seeing it on the news is one thing, but seeing it in real life made me go cold.” 

The Polish Community Hub’s next collection will be on Sunday, April 24 at Castle Hill Community Centre. 

To donate, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/magdalena-chambers  

Edd Cottee and Dave Cole appealed to the town to help them find a van they could drive to Lithuania last month

Edd Cottee and Dave Cole appealed to the town to help them find a van they could drive to Lithuania last month, and had one donated to them by John Grose in Ipswich. - Credit: Dave Cole

Edd and Dave's children attend the same primary school in Ipswich. They joined forces to organise an aid collection

Edd and Dave's children attend the same primary school in Ipswich, and they joined forces to organise an aid collection for Ukraine. - Credit: Dave Cole

Edd says that he and Dave visited local shops in Poland, and spent £1,200 on supplies for a refugee camp near the border.

Edd says that he and Dave visited local shops in Poland, and spent £1,200 on supplies for a refugee camp near the Ukraine border. - Credit: Edd Cottee