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Seven tonnes of aid leaves Inverness bound for Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

Thomas Machnik has played a key role in the refugee aid effort in Inverness. Picture by Sandy McCook
Thomas Machnik has played a key role in the refugee aid effort in Inverness. Picture by Sandy McCook

A lorry full of aid for Ukrainian refugees left Inverness today bound for eastern Europe.

Highlands for Ukraine was launched just a few weeks ago and has already sent off van-loads of items to help the refugee effort in Poland.

Today’s latest shipment is the largest yet, weighing in at seven tonnes.

Among the items are:

  • more than 250,000 packs of nappies
  • thousands of bars of soap
  • a small forest of toothbrushes.

The huge trailer will head across the Channel and eventually arrive in Lublin, Poland, close to the Ukraine border.

How Inverness and the Highlands are trying to help Ukrainian refugees

The shipment was put together by individual contributions, plus help from a variety of Highland businesses, charities, churches and schools.

Once in Poland, it will be distributed by the Polish Red Cross to shelters where mothers and children from Ukraine are being housed.

The Highland group was founded in the first few days that followed Russia’s invasion.

Lorry driver Piotr Klimek and some of the Highlands for Ukraine volunteers. Picture by Sandy McCook

Thomas Machnik, a Polish-born Inverness businessman, decided to get involved as none of the large aid agencies had sprung into action yet.

He asked the Polish Red Cross what was desperately required, and reached out to Issy Fairclough and Helen MacRae from charity KSD Highlands.

The three of them set up the project and it has grown steadily ever since.

Thomas said: “We began by asking the local business community for help and the response was breathtaking.

“Within hours we were loaned premises in Seafield Road by Gavin MacDonald, who had moved his flooring company out of there.

“Then the aid just started rolling in.”

‘This crisis isn’t going to end anytime soon’

There have been several other impressive aid efforts in the north in response to the Ukraine invasion.

High Life Highland raised £15,000 for the Disaster Emergency Committee during its “weekend of action” earlier this month.

Many companies have pitched in to help Highlands for Ukraine.

Among them is Dyce Carriers, who are transporting the lorry full of aid to Poland free of charge.

Thomas said: “We could hardly believe the generosity of not only Highland companies but then other charities, schools, hospitals and kind individuals who went to the trouble of finding us.

“They wanted to help by doing whatever they could, donating or volunteering their time and, in many cases, both.

“And Highland Council has promised to help where possible too.”

The project is just getting started and further trips are likely.

Thomas added: “This humanitarian crisis isn’t going to end any time soon, so we are gearing up for a lot more work.

“But we know the people and businesses of Scotland are behind us now – so anything is possible.”

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