Mansfield students join aid effort for Ukrainian refugees

Students and staff at West Nottinghamshire College have responded to an appeal by a Mansfield church to send emergency aid items to Ukrainian refugees.

Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:45 pm

They supported a major relief effort organised by the Old Meeting House Unitarian Church by joining other volunteers in getting boxes of essential items ready to go to people displaced by the crisis.

More than 50 students from several curriculum areas including foundation studies, health and social care, uniformed protective services, engineering, and A-levels joined church and community volunteers in sorting items, packing boxes and loading them onto vans.

It came after trustee Pauline Smith issued an urgent plea for help after the church, on Stockwell Gate, was inundated with donations of supplies from the local community.

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Health and social care students (back, from left) Holly Chester and Corley Cantrell and (front, from left) Jorja Hancock, Sarah Murdoch and Samara Brown with Rev Maria Pap (back, right).

Pauline explained: “We were overwhelmed with donations, we started sorting through it all and it suddenly occurred to us that somehow we’d got to get all this stuff onto vans – and every pew was filed with boxes.

"We’re a small number of volunteers and not as young as we used to be, and we realised we couldn’t do it by ourselves.

“And so I asked local colleges to see if they’ve got anybody who could help.”

Students and staff members rallied to the cause and gave up their time to box up essential items including food, drink, medical supplies and pet food.

Uniformed protective services students help load vital aid onto a van set for western Ukraine.

They took turns in supporting various shifts, coordinated by student enrichment and engagement officer Josh Levy.

In a separate initiative, staff and students supported the church’s efforts by donating aid items through a collection organised by learning support assistant Bernie Tyers, whose shared staff room at the college became a drop-off point.

Advanced Diploma in Public Services student Nina Goodwin, 16, said: “As soon as I heard about the opportunity, I jumped straight on it.

"It was a brilliant opportunity to get involved in the community and help Ukrainian refugees return to some sort of normality.

Engineering students prepare to load donations onto a van, with volunteer Barbara West (right).

"It’s tragic what has happened, so it’s nice to give some input and help them out.”

Her views were echoed by fellow public services student Finlay West, 17, who said: “It felt like a nice thing to do because the Ukrainian refugees don’t know we’re doing this for them.

"It makes you feel pleased that you’re doing it with no reward; it gives you a sense of pride that you’re helping others.

“It seems inhumane what’s going one at the moment – all their homes are being destroyed and they no longer have all the things we take for granted, so I was more than happy to get involved.”

Advanced Technical Certificate in Health and Social Care student Jorja Hancock, 17, said: “I just wanted to help people and show them how much we support them, no matter what happens in the world.

“Some of my friends have family in Ukraine, so I’d like to support them as well as other refugees.

"If there was a war in the UK we’d want people from other countries to help us, so it goes both ways.”

Thanking students for their efforts, Pauline Smith added: “I was totally overwhelmed by their response and the enthusiasm and willingness they showed.

Some made up boxes, others sorted through the items, and some loaded them onto vans.

“We couldn’t have done this without the young people.”

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