Great Yarmouth foodbank sending supplies to Ukrainian refugees

Trevor Saunders, Bradie Hubbard and volunteers from Mandalay Wellbeing.

Trevor Saunders (left), volunteers from Mandalay Wellbeing CIC and Tesco Caister store manager Bradie Hubbard (right) are working together to help distribute essentials to those affected by the conflict in Ukraine. - Credit: James Weeds

Nappies, sanitary products and food are just some of the donations being sent from a Great Yarmouth foodbank to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

Mandalay Wellbeing Community Interest Charity (CIC), which is currently based down Victoria Arcade, has prepared tents and sleeping bags, sanitary products and nappies, and food and clothing to be distributed to Poland to help those most affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

A pile of clothes.

Warm clothing will be sent to Poland from Great Yarmouth. - Credit: James Weeds

Mandalay Wellbeing CIC manager Trevor Saunders, 55, said: “As soon as we saw the amount of people fleeing the country, we knew we were going to do something to help.

"Everyone who has given to us over the past two years can see where their donations are going.

“We just want the items to get there and for it to be distributed.

"But getting it there is the challenge."

Mr Saunders said he has contacted a lorry which is set to travel through Poland shortly and the donated items will be left at a distribution centre in the country.

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"Without the coordination, it will be chaos," said Mr Saunders. "But these are decisions that have to be made above our heads. The government has got to give us guidance.

"My big fear is we will store it and that won't be any good."

Trevor Saunders in his shop.

Trevor Saunders said he had to do something to help. - Credit: James Weeds

Mandalay volunteers have organised items into clearly labelled boxes - separating children's items, tents and sleeping bags, and warm clothing - to help ease the distribution process.

Items to be distributed include tinned and dried food, coats, hats, gloves, toiletries, sanitary products, toys, tents and sleeping bags.

Box of nappies

Nappies donated to Mandalay Wellbeing CIC are being sent to help families affected by the Ukrainian conflict. - Credit: James Weeds

Fifty Rapid Relief Team food boxes - which contain items such as tinned fruit and veg, UHT milk and instant soups - will also be taken to Poland.

Mr Saunders said: "We've done this sort of thing already during the lockdowns but on a smaller scale. 

"This is the same thing but much bigger.

"I understand it is a warzone and a lot of refugees are entering Poland with nothing. 

"We have to do something.

"It's surreal. We're having to close our branch soon and perhaps the biggest crisis ever is happening and we are doing what we can to help."

Rapid Relief Team contents and boxes in storage

Mandalay Wellbeing CIC currently have 50 Rapid Relief Team family food boxes which will be sent to Poland. Each box contains essential items, such as water, pasta and tinned vegetables. - Credit: James Weeds

Mandalay Wellbeing CIC will be closing its current branch on Wednesday, March 9. The service will be relocating to The Priory Centre, but its foodbank will no longer be operational.

What is being donated and what they need

Tesco Caister has opened a donation station at the front of its store - it is appealing for non-perishable food, clothing and torches and batteries.

Store manager Bradie Hubbard, 47, said: "We feel we need to do something.

Bradie Hubbard in Trevor Saunders' shop.

Bradie Hubbard, store manager of Tesco Caister, said a collection point for all donations is now at the village branch of the supermarket. - Credit: James Weeds

"Yesterday, we sat down as a team and tried to find somewhere local to support.

"Trevor called me and described what he wanted to do and it worked with exactly what we wanted to do. 

"We're happy to support Trevor and whatever Mandalay has next."

From North Norfolk, a small group of people are planning to drive a van to the Ukrainian border to deliver food and much-needed supplies for the war refugees fleeing the country. 

Anyone who wants to find out more can call 01692 407015.