Following the invasion of Ukraine last month, there have been several appeals set up across Nottingham for those fleeing the conflict. Last Thursday, the Muslim Cultural Centre in Wollaton organised an event in solidarity with Ukraine, asking for people to provide items of food and clothing to those crossing the border into Poland.
Thus far, 1.7 million refugees have crossed into neighbouring countries, with most crossing to Poland alone. Edyta Gluch, originally from Bytom, Poland, is a member of the mosque and was inspired to set up the appeal after witnessing the events unfold in a bordering country. She said “I could not sit back and watch my fellow humans left with absolutely nothing, just witnessing the very few belongings they have on them, and the thought of them struggling to get food was incredibly heart-breaking.” She continued “All the while women and children are being forced into an incredibly desperate and unsafe situation. This was what inspired me to set up this appeal.”
I could not sit back and watch my fellow humans left with absolutely nothing, just witnessing the very few belongings they have on them, and the thought of them struggling to get food was incredibly heart-breaking.
Vera Lanes, 64, attended the event, donating canned food to contribute towards the appeal. She said “after watching the horrific events in Ukraine, I was incredibly saddened and felt like I should do my bit, even if it’s as small as offering tins… I think it’s a fantastic idea for the local mosque to contribute towards this wider appeal.”
B. Taylors & Sons Transport, based in Sutton in Ashfield, has arranged for a lorry to take hundreds of boxes to Poland, including those donated to the Muslim Cultural Centre, where they will make the 2,600 mile journey to the city of Zamosc, just 30 miles shy of the Ukrainian – Polish border. They will then to be sorted through and redistributed to Ukrainian refugees across the country. Managing Director of Taylors, Alan Taylor, stated “Originally I said we’d put one trailer out there yet we had such a good response from local companies were now in a position where we’re sending out seven in the coming week to clear what we’ve had so far. Three have gone out already, and everybody has been so kind hearted by donating useful things to this appeal.”
There will be a continued correspondence between the Mosque, Taylors and the town of Zamosc in Poland. Alan stated “The town Mayor of Zamosc will be there to greet the trailer when it arrives.”
In Edyta’s home city there have been similar appeals set up to help refugees. “The primary school I attended as a child and the local fire brigade are all involved.” However, unfortunately, she believes there have not been enough volunteers so far in her home country, though she hopes this will change as the crisis deepens. Despite this, the appeal at the Muslim Cultural Centre has, according to Edyta, gone much better than expected and she hopes this will progress with people continuing to donate to Ukrainian refugees in which ever way they can.
We are proof today that all communities can live, support and exist with each other.
Despite Poland usually being reluctant to immigration, they have transformed their policy to accommodate Ukrainian nationals seeking asylum. Despite this, there have been various reports of people of colour being refused entry at the border. Edyta said “I think it’s disgusting. We are the proof today that all communities can live, support and exist with each other. So what is the exact point of obstructing people based on race or religion?” She continued, “My family have lived in England for several years, and we are glad we have mixed communities. This policy at the border is not fair at all.” Edyta says the situation unfolding in Eastern Europe strikes parallels with when Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
“Poland has done such a big thing for Ukraine. My country has been through such hard times themselves so they can genuinely sympathize with the current situation.”
She continued, “This is why I think the government have taken these the unprecedented steps.” However, she believes that there has to be further changes in Poland’s accommodation policy of refugees, “because this is not a matter of skin colour but of humanity…. people should not be discriminated against on these grounds.”
Taylors have had to temporarily suspend donations because they are currently inundated, however, Mr Taylor will be busy over the next two weeks organizing the logistics so that more goods can be redistributed. Although incredibly grateful, Edyta is cautious of everyone donating at once because she does not want the food to be wasted. After the event, the Muslim Cultural Centre kindly provided Impact Magazine with an English translation of the Quran to symbolize standing in solidarity with Ukraine.
Featured and in-article images courtesy of George Scotland and Taylor’s. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to these images.
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