A Swindon organisation has begun sending aid directly into Ukraine after teaming up with drivers and aid workers from the war-torn nation.
The first of its vehicles reached Lviv earlier today - 15 June.
Since the Russian invasion, Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership has sent lorries containing 550 tonnes of aid ranging from bedding to medical supplies.
Until recently, those supplies could be taken only as far as the border between Poland and Ukraine, where aid workers arranged for further distribution, but a new initiative will see them taken directly into the parts of Ukraine where they are most needed.
Courageous local drivers have volunteered for the perilous missions, many of which involve navigating areas where roads have been destroyed by Russian attacks.
Mike Bowden, who chairs the aid partnership's committee, said that in hard-pressed eastern parts of Ukraine, aid had either been sparse or not arriving at all.
He added: "We thought we had a moral duty to do something about that, so we have lined up with Ukrainian drivers. It's not been easy. Many have funded themselves.
"We're looking to continue that model because we think it's better to get aid into the country directly."
The partnership has been given a base in Swindon's Railway Village by Swindon Borough Council.
In addition to sending aid to Ukraine, it helps Ukrainian people who have been forced by the invasion to leave their country and have arrived in Swindon.
One volunteer, Natalia Suhoveeva, came to Swindon five years ago but is originally from Kiev.
She recalled a family with a little girl who wanted to take only a small hand-knitted woollen doll from among the many donated items.
Ms Suhoveeva, said: "It is something made with love; maybe some granny did it. The girl didn't take any fancy stuff.
"Ukrainian people who have come here, they have not just received something - every day I have some help from Ukrainian people. They come here and they volunteer and they try to help each other.
"They want to do something."
The partnership welcomes donations, particularly of small generators, batteries, chargers, toiletries, nappies, food, medical supplies and tourniquets. It also welcomes inexpensive small vehicles, preferably open-backed ones such as pick-up trucks, for carrying aid.
Mr Bowden can be contacted for further information at [email protected]
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