An aid effort in east Kent which started on social media and snowballed into an international operation has now neared the £1million donation mark, paying for medical supplies to be shipped to Ukraine.
The campaign, started by Deal man Charlie Cawsey who owns Type One Style diabetes equipment business, has been operating from Discovery Park in Sandwich since March.
An army of volunteers have helped with the operation, organising and packing supplies from the Discovery Park base and, for a period, at a hangar on the Manston airport site.
Currently, shipments run once a week taking large consignments of medical aid and organising them into smaller mixed kits for ease of unloading and distribution in conflict areas, as well as for individual relay and transport in backpacks.
Set up as non profit United For Ukraine, the primary fundraising goal is to buy medical supplies requested by doctors and hospitals in the war torn country as the Russian invasion and air strikes result in worsening struggles to access life-saving medicines and equipment.
United For Ukraine is delivering supplies to 110 sites in Ukraine. With requests rapidly increasing, the charitable company has set a donation target of £12m.
Charlie, 25, says he was prompted to launch the campaign because his partner is Type One diabetic and he just wanted to help.
The first 24 hours of his appeal resulted in more than £10,000 in donations and by the end of the first weekend that had grown to £200,000 worth of medical supplies sent to the Discovery Park base and donations of some £70,000.
Specific requests from Ukrainian medical professionals are flooding in for urgent, life-or- death supplies that are impeded via traditional aid networks or starved of government and corporate support.
Examples of live requests include neonatologists in Odesa asking for neonatal life support incubators, and even ambulances to help evacuate babies inside the life support incubators, where they are trapped in the hospital and vulnerable to bombing.
Elsewhere, endocrinologists have written asking for blood glucose testing equipment and medics in Kyiv have requested hemostatic powders, liquids, gauze, external fixation tools, orthopedic kit, and negative pressure wound therapy equipment, to treat innocent civilians wounded by the bombing.
As of Friday, April 1 more than £600,000 of medical aid had been delivered directly to 110 hospitals in Kharkiv, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Ternopil, and more. The supplies include brand new high value high impact trauma and emergency room aid, as well as some diabetes aid.
United with Ukraine is working with partners including Fearless Adventures, and liaising with the Ukrainian government to make sure supplies get to the areas where they are most needed.
The organisation is appealing for cash donations to pay for medical supplies and delivery.
Charlie said: “We have a unique network and confirmed deliveries in Ukraine, mostly in hard to reach areas like Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Sumy, and even to individuals fleeing Mariupol. But it seems crazy that some of Ukraine’s top doctors are reliant on us, a completely new organisation with a grassroots delivery network. But we’re getting the job done and that’s why they come to us. We receive a request, source it, ship it, and it actually does get there. We don’t hesitate, there is no time.”
“Our operation is distributing high-impact, targeted medical aid. Every single recipient receives a box that is actually immediately useful, and we can reach recipients inside Ukraine that no other channels can because we have built our own distribution channel. When you donate to UWU you know what your money will pay for and you know it’s going to go there.”
The campaign had delivered supplies including sweets, test strips, continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, tourniquets, first aid kits, and even portable defibrillators. There has also been a donation of 250 shoeboxes filled with children’s aid to several refugee centres in eastern Poland. The boxes contained socks, scarves, gloves, toothbrushes, toothpaste and various sweet treats, including high-calorie protein bars for Ukrainian diabetics.
All the donations have been delivered to addresses given to the charity by the Ukrainian embassy, including special warehouses in the east of Poland and different Nova Poshta collection points in Ukraine. Staff at the Nova Poshta collection points coordinate with hundreds of volunteers across Ukraine who then go on to distribute the supplies across the country.
Watch how the campaign began at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M41Fgp0qc48
To donate to UWU, click here.
The Disaster Emergency Committee works with member charities and local partners operating on the ground in Ukraine and western border countries. Find details or donate at https://www.dec.org.uk/