"Ukrainians desperately in need of help"
After five aid trips to Ukraine in the last few months, transporting 46 refugees and nine dogs to safety in the UK, and taking around £10,000 worth of food and medical supplies to Ukrainians, Preston Baker’s James Baker and friend Mike Harding are preparing to make a sixth 4,000-mile round aid mission and have made a plea for support.
“The war in Ukraine rages on and winter is biting there with sub-zero temperatures,” said James, Preston Baker’s Land and New Homes Director.
James added: “The war is not getting the same press coverage it did and with the problems in the UK with cost of living and recession, aid and help for Ukraine has really dropped off, at a time when it is needed as much as ever, if not more.
“Warm clothing, food and medical supplies are desperately needed, by families and soldiers on the front line, and we will keep making trips as long as we are able to and they are needed.”
Donate warm clothes
James and close friend Mike Harding from Selby are busy planning their sixth trip to Ukraine for January and would like people to donate any warm clothes they can.
“It’s really cold out there and any boots, clothes or jackets you have will be very gratefully received,” said Mike.
“There is also a real need for items such as generators and power banks.”
The two friends purchased a 16-seater minibus out of their own savings and since March this year have done regular trips to Ukraine. They have done some fundraising to help fund their trips, so far raising just over £10,000, but have also funded much of the trips themselves. They are now busy raising funds for their sixth trip.
Humbled by support
“We now know a lot of people in Ukraine and also are in contact with the refugees we have brought back to the UK,” said James, adding: “We know first-hand that whereas in the early days there was regular aid help from both individuals and organisations, this is no longer the case and people are desperately in need of our help.”
“We want to do these trips as regularly as we can, but obviously there is a cost involved and so we are doing as much fundraising as we can,” said Mike. “Ever since I raised the idea with James, we have been throwing ourselves into the fundraising effort.”
He added: “People have been so generous with donations of both money and supplies and we feel very humbled by the support we have received, and the gratitude and support shown to us during our aid trips.
Inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainian people
“We've been inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainian people since the beginning of this despicable invasion, and moved by their suffering. We want to do something about it, and we hope there are other people out there who will too.
“We're asking local communities and businesses for contributions of clothes and footwear, or of the funds for us to purchase food and medical supplies. You can find our JustGiving page for our sixth trip here.
“We know money is tight for a lot of people right now with the rising cost of living, but if you can spare anything to help purchase aid it would be greatly appreciated and thank you for the generosity of those that have already donated.”
The duo are also co-ordinating donations of items in person. Anyone living in the Leeds, Selby or York areas who has items to donate can take them to Preston Baker’s offices in those locations.
Pictures show James and Mike during their aid trips to Ukraine and a donation of warm clothes being received at Preston Baker’s Roundhay premises in Leeds.