A team of drivers have completed an “emotional” 1,200 mile journey across Europe to deliver humanitarian aid to families fleeing the crisis in Ukraine.
Mark Penn and his 14-year-old daughter Chelsea, from Goole organisation, Help the Homelezz, along with Hambleton’s Stuart Davison, completed the week long trip to deliver essential items donated by people of Goole and surrounding areas to those in need. The team set off on the journey on Friday, March 18, leaving The Courtyard, where some of the hundreds of donations were being stored, and travelling to the Polish village of Szydłowca where Ukrainian families have been taking refuge.
Speaking of the trip Mark said: “The trip has been amazing from beginning to end, we have met amazing people and seen and heard about things that you don’t hear else where. “The people we have met were scared and frightened and there were new families coming in by the day.” Mark’s daughter, Chelsea is just 14-years-old and said the trip was “eye opening”. She said: “I love helping people and volunteer with Help the Homelezz so I wanted to be able to help the families affected by the war. “It was really eye opening to hear what the families have been through, but I loved seeing the smiles from people when we delivered the items, especially seeing the smiles from the children when we gave them sweets and colouring books.”
The items transported to Poland were donated as part of a town wide appeal in Goole, which was launched by the Brzezinska family, including Mum Marta, her sister Anna and daughter Natalia. The family, who are originally from Szydłowca in the Masovian District of Poland, had recently visited the area on a family holiday and saw the refugees beginning to arrive. Heartbroken by what they say the family decided to launch an appeal to collect donations to help the people in need and the people of Goole turned out in their hundreds to donate essential items including nappies, food, medicine, warm clothing and more.
Fellow driver Stuart Davison revealed the team were greeted with a warm welcome when they arrived in Poland and there were many tears when the team met some of the refugee families. He said: “When we arrived on the outskirts of the village we were welcomed by a reception from the fire brigade who escorted us into the village. “We unloaded the items and the women and children could not thank us enough. They told us about what they had experienced and it was absolutely awful to hear. Some of the stories we heard were just unbelievable and very emotional.” Many organisations and business in Goole have helped to make the appeal possible by stepping up as drop off points and offering support. Mark said: “We would like to thank Mission Trinity who worked alongside Help the Homelezz on this trip, East Coast Sales Limited for donating all the PPE and clothing for the trip, RMC Digital Print for the vehicle signage, and also to the two gentleman, Steve Walker Senior and Steve Walker Junior from Old Goole Garage who have done a wonderful job in making sure our aid vehicle was ready for the journey to the small village in Poland. “We would also like to thank the foundation in Poland for offering us the welcome, to Marta for allowing us to transport the items, to all the hotels across Europe who put us up free of charge during the trip and to the Goole Times for sharing our appeal.”
Marta added: “I want to thank my voluntary drivers team Stuart, Mark and Chelsea, as well as, Bobbie from The Courtyard, Jonny and Hannah from The Parish Church. I would also like to thank all my collection points including The Moorlands Community Centre, Goole Fire Station, Two Rivers Community Pantry, HEY Credit Union and the Goole Times as well as all the volunteers. “Another van with donations, which was funded by money raised on my JustGiving page left on Monday and the girls from the Polish Foundation, Pomocna dlon (Helping Hand) are very grateful.” Thanks to the generosity of Waltons Pet Foods and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Two Rivers Community Pantry now also has the free use of two, 10 tonne trucks which will help transport even more donations to the Ukraine Relief effort. There are also other plans in the works for Mark and the team to make a second trip, with people asked to donate via the Help the Homelezz website to help cover the cost of transport.
Marta said: “I would like to collect donations again when I have more information from Poland about what the Ukrainian refugees need. “The mayor of another city has also contacted me after seeing my collection, saying that people there are lacking food and cleanliness the most. “At the moment, there are over two million refugees located in homes, hotels, fire stations and other places in Poland. They need this help all the time. Therefore, I would like to thank everyone who took part in this action and hopefully we can do more soon.”
Mark and Chelsea and Stuart Davison are pictured upon their arrival in Poland alongside local residents and the fire brigade. (24-03-81 SU)