An east Kent aid effort that started on social media and turned into an international operation has now approached the £1million donation mark, paying for medical supplies to be shipped to Ukraine .
The campaign, launched by Deal man Charlie Cawsey, owner of a type 1 diabetes equipment business, has been operating out of Discovery Park in Sandwich since March.
An army of volunteers assisted in the operation, organizing and packing supplies from the base at Discovery Park and, for a time, in a hangar on the Manston Airport site.
Currently, shipments are made once a week taking large consignments of medical aid and organizing them into smaller mixed kits to facilitate unloading and distribution in conflict areas, as well as for individual relay and transport in backpacks.
Established as a non-profit organization United For Ukraine, the primary fundraising goal is to purchase medical supplies needed by doctors and hospitals in the war-torn country as the invasion and the Russian airstrikes lead to an aggravation of the difficulties of access to vital medicines and equipment.
United For Ukraine delivers supplies to 110 locations in Ukraine. With requests increasing rapidly, the charity has set a donation target of £12million.
Charlie, 25, says he was prompted to start the campaign because his partner has type 1 diabetes and he just wanted to help.
The first 24 hours of his appeal resulted in over £10,000 in donations and by the end of the first weekend £200,000 of medical supplies had been sent to the Discovery Park base and donations of around 70,000 £.
Specific requests from Ukrainian medical professionals are pouring in for urgent, life-saving or life-threatening supplies, which are hampered by traditional aid networks or deprived of government and corporate support.
Examples of live requests include neonatologists in Odessa asking for neonatal survival incubators, and even ambulances to help evacuate babies inside survival incubators, where they are trapped in the hospital and vulnerable to shelling.
Elsewhere, endocrinologists have written asking for blood sugar testing equipment and doctors in Kyiv have asked for haemostatic powders, liquids, gauze, external fixation tools, an orthopedic kit and pressure sore treatment equipment negative, to treat innocent civilians wounded by the bombardments.
By Friday April 1, more than £600,000 in medical aid had been delivered directly to 110 hospitals in Kharkiv, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Ternopil, etc. Supplies include all-new, high-value, high-impact emergency and trauma aids, as well as diabetes aids.
United with Ukraine is working with partners, including Fearless Adventures, and liaising with the Ukrainian government to ensure supplies get to areas where they are needed most.
The organization is appealing for cash donations to pay for medical supplies and delivery.
Charlie said: “We have a unique network and confirmed deliveries in Ukraine, mainly to hard-to-reach areas like Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Sumy, and even people fleeing Mariupol. But it seems crazy that some of the best Ukrainian doctors depend on us, a brand new organization with a grassroots delivery network. But we do the work and that’s why they come to us. We get a request, pick it up, ship it, and it gets there. We don’t hesitate, we don’t have time.
“Our operation distributes targeted, high-impact medical aid. Each recipient receives a box which is actually immediately useful, and we can reach recipients in Ukraine that no other channel can reach because we have built our own distribution channel. When you donate to UWU, you know what your money will pay for and you know it will go there.
The campaign had delivered supplies including candy, test strips, continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, tourniquets, first aid kits and even portable defibrillators. There was also a donation of 250 shoeboxes filled with child aid to several refugee centers in eastern Poland. The boxes contained socks, scarves, gloves, toothbrushes, toothpaste and various sugary treats, including high-calorie protein bars for Ukrainian diabetics.
All donations were delivered to addresses given to the charity by the Ukrainian Embassy, including special warehouses in eastern Poland and various Nova Poshta collection points in Ukraine. Staff at Nova Poshta collection points coordinate with hundreds of volunteers across Ukraine who then distribute the supplies across the country.
Watch how the campaign started on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M41Fgp0qc48
Donate to UWUClick here.
The Disaster Emergency Committee works with member charities and local partners operating on the ground in Ukraine and Western border countries. Find details or donate at https://www.dec.org.uk/