How a Facebook post raised £1 million in aid for Ukraine

Joanna Ejsmont and her team.

A Weston appeal has sent £1million of aid to Ukraine. - Credit: Joanna Ejsmont

A Ukrainian support appeal which started with a Facebook post has just sent the final shipment of its £1 million worth of aid to the country's border.

The campaign, spearheaded by Joanna Ejsmont's original post, was launched shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine asking for residents to donate money and essential items across Europe.

Since the call for help, lorries and shipping containers have been dispatched with the final care package leaving Kingston Seymour on Wednesday (April 13).

Joanna Ejsmont

The last shipment of aid was sent on April 13. - Credit: Joanna Ejsmont

Mrs Ejsmont admitted she could not have imagined the impact her original Facebook post has made.

She said: "I am not an organization, I am an ordinary, private person.

"We created a JoannaforUkraine website on Facebook to keep people informed about what they need and where are our collection points.

"I did not imagine that this action would grow to this size, we started with a post on Facebook and ended with seven vans and a five trucks.

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"I am not able to say how many people have been involved but the scale of our campaign exceeded our expectations, apart from companies, schools and shops, we were helped by many private people and friends for which I thank you with all my heart."

Joanna Ejsmont and her team.

Joanna has thanked all the groups who have helped support the appeal. - Credit: Joanna Ejsmont

Joanna admitted she has heard from some of those who have received the items she has helped send to Ukraine, often in tears.

She added: "I would like to thank the Weston Mercury for the help and publicity of our campaign, but also Acorn Carp Fishery for all the help it has given us.

"Yeo Valley for the products they gave and help in financing the trucks, Polish Shop Worle for being our collection point, all the schools that helped, Hutton Moore Gym, Nailsea Gym, Weston Hospital, Ambulance Service in Bath for medical equipment, but most of all I want to thank the community that has helped us

"They brought everything they could, and my helpers Bartek Ewa Oleksa, Magdalena Łukasz Stajniak, Valentina Valentyna Savchuk for help in organising funds and transport, Nina Korotych for the point in Bristol and great help, Kuba Bredłowski and Maciek Golabek for providing vans and David for storage in Weston, Smurfit Kappa South West.

"If I have missed someone, I apologise with all my heart"

Tony Jenkins

Tony Jenkins, left, helping loads a lorry with donations. - Credit: Joanna Ejsmont

Yeo Valley Lions member, Tony Jenkins, has also helped organise the shipments and estimates around £1 million worth of aid has been sent.

Mr Jenkins told the Mercury: "The support we have received has been incredible with the donations, the pallets and the medical equipment.

"The first shipment left on March 7, each one has been worth around £250,000 in value.

"The public's generosity has been unbelievable, too. They have gone out and bought essentials that we have requested and the top of the range for each product - it has been outstanding."

Boxes of donations.

Boxes of donations. - Credit: Tony Jenkins

The project will now be passed on to the Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS) group which will now focus on providing help to Ukrainian refugees arriving in the district.

Its warehouse will be moved to Portishead from the Acorn Carp Fishery in Clevedon.

VANS member, Dave Crossman said: "Now on we will be focusing our attention on people for Ukraine

These are families matched with local hosts and we will make sure they have the materials and support they need in terms of clothing and other items.

"Most are arriving here [North Somerset] from Bristol Airport and only have the minimum amount of luggage they are allowed so we are trying to make sure they have the clothing and sanitary equipment they need when arriving at Weston, Clevedon and other towns."

VANS is currently accepting volunteers for its Portishead warehouse, to register to go to www.vansweb.org.uk

For further updates on how to help visit www.facebook.com/Joannaforukraine