Redbridge Council Leader in a van with donations

Redbridge Council leader delivers donations to Ukraine

Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal arrived at the Poland-Ukraine border on Friday 11 March to personally deliver donations to Ukrainian refugees.

Athwal travelled for 48 hours in a van, carrying three tonnes of donated items, before arriving at the Romania-Ukraine border.

The council leader felt obligated to experience first hand the consequences and tragedies of the war and directly aid the humanitarian crisis.

Athwal, 58, said: “When I got there and saw the women and children crossing the border with nothing but the clothes on their backs, suddenly it hit me that I had just walked into a war zone and was seeing the consequences of war.

“These people had been walking in insufficient, inadequate clothing and they were absolutely frozen to the bone, still trembling.

“This is not a war of their making, they are not the perpetrators they just happen to be caught in the middle of it, they are the just the recipients of Russian bombs.

“Nothing prepares you for this.”

On Tuesday 1 March, the council launched an urgent appeal for donations and within one hour, Woodford Baptist Church in the borough was full with everyday items such as nappies, blankets and coats for Ukrainian refugees.

GENEROSITY: Donations outside of Woodford Baptist Church. Image credit: Redbridge Council

The appeal was closed after 48 hours, and donations and supplies were being left outside as there was no space left inside the church and the council leader set off for Ukraine on Wednesday 9 March.

Athwal described how faith groups on the Ukrainian border were at the very front of the humanitarian crisis, serving hot food and providing heating and tents for the refugees.

European governments were also operating coaches on the border to evacuate Ukrainians and transport them to their own countries for aid and refuge.

The council leader explained: “I am really glad that I could see first hand the inadequacies of our ways and how other governments have stepped up.

“The first duty of any government is to take responsibility and ownership of the situation, but the UK government has fallen woefully short and has been very slow to respond.”

Departments within Redbridge Council are currently organising aid to ensure that the borough prepared for the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in the near future.

Featured image by Redbridge Council

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