First donations for Ukrainian refugees leave Kintyre

From left: coordinator Mandy Robertson; Kintyre Kollector's Arthur Murray and Ewan McHardy; and volunteers Joan Chestnut and Heather Mauchline, with the first load of donations and some of the remaining boxes.
From left: coordinator Mandy Robertson; Kintyre Kollector's Arthur Murray and Ewan McHardy; and volunteers Joan Chestnut and Heather Mauchline, with the first load of donations and some of the remaining boxes.

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The woman behind Kintyre’s response to the refugee crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been ‘really overwhelmed’ by the community’s generosity – but added she never expected anything less.

Mandy Robertson spoke to the Courier on Monday morning, as the first van-load of items donated to help the estimated two million mostly women and children who have fled war-torn Ukraine, left Kintyre.

The goods – medical supplies and items for babies and children, including several second-hand Scottish Government-issued ‘baby boxes’ – will likely end up in Poland, where more than half of the Ukrainian refugees are thought to have travelled.

Mandy coordinated the community response through youth support charity The Hub where she is a development worker.

After being inundated with donations following an appeal online and in the Courier, Mandy and a team of volunteers – mostly family and close friends as a precaution due to an increase of Covid cases in Kintyre – spent the weekend at The Hub, sorting and boxing items in accordance with customs regulations.

The van-load that left on Monday, which Mandy says ‘doesn’t even make a dent’ in the donations, was transported to the Church of Scotland in Cambuslang by collection and delivery company Kintyre Kollector.

‘There are loads of different places accepting donations and it’s just down to who has space to take stuff,’ Mandy explained.

‘The Church of Scotland had a load of baby stuff going out on Wednesday so that’s why our items for babies and children went to it.’

A second delivery of items, predominantly for adults, was taken to Glasgow by courier AM Transport later in the week.

Children from Dalintober and Castlehill primary schools have made hearts reading, 'Love from Campbeltown, Scotland,' which will be put in the pockets of clothes for refugees.
Children from Dalintober and Castlehill primary schools have made hearts reading, ‘Love from Campbeltown, Scotland,’ which will be put in the pockets of clothes for refugees.

At The Hub, at the start of this week, there were nine bulk bags, each capable of holding a tonne of gravel, filled to the brim with stuff still to be sorted and boxed, as well as about 200 bin bags that hadn’t even been opened yet.

‘Everybody is just trying to do their bit and I think that’s why people have been so generous,’ Mandy said, ‘because we feel so helpless.

‘We know how scared children are of Covid and you can’t see Covid – they can see what’s going on over there in Ukraine and it must be absolutely terrifying.

‘If we can just do this, it’s something. When you see the warehouses filled with everything, it just shows you how kind people are and how much they want to help.

‘It has been very humbling and really overwhelming seeing how much, but also how little, people have donated – folk who maybe don’t have a lot, still wanted to give.

‘The support of the community has been really overwhelming but I never expected anything less.’

As well as donations for children and adults, people and businesses have also given Mandy boxes, parcel tape, pens and labels – necessary items she was struggling to get a hold of.

So much has been donated nationally that people are being asked not to donate any more items. Instead, charities and businesses are appealing for funding to help get the donations to the people who need them.

‘A lot of haulage companies have offered lorries and drivers but they need help with fuel costs,’ Mandy said.

She thanked everyone who donated to The Hub, as well as all the volunteers who have helped her, without whom she says she wouldn’t have managed to cope with the volume of donations.

‘What we’re doing is nothing compared to what those folk are going through,’ she added.