Russia invades Ukraine: As vast numbers of Ukrainian refugees flee the fighting, we must do what we can to help – Hayley Matthews
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It is just incomprehensible, the thought of so many people upping and leaving, saying goodbye to what they know as home. Leaving their lives, pets and friends behind. I think the majority of us will not be able to fully understand how difficult that must be.
With more than a million people having left Ukraine in just a few days, they are all in great need of help and supplies. I've been looking for ways to help as I sit at home watching the news and feeling helpless.
I found that lots of places where you can make donations were full to the brim, so much so that they were apparently not taking any more for the moment. However, this is all just talk on Facebook so if you're looking to donate please get in touch first to ask.
In particular, there are many places collecting supplies to take over to Ukrainians who have fled to Poland.
It was mentioned during the week that the Edinburgh Ukrainian Club on Royal Terrace was looking for a number of items, mainly things like baby milk, bottles, toiletries, ladies sanitary products, medicines, bandages, painkillers etc, and also items that travel well such as non-perishable foods, satchels of instant coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate bars, energy bars, noodles – anything that falls in to these categories is welcome.
I've found some places were not taking clothes. However, the Ukrainian Club was accepting adults and children’s clothes and shoes, sleeping bags, camping mats. They've apparently been inundated with donations.
Many Polish grocery shops are taking donations too, a sign of the community spirit that is growing around the effort to help people in Ukraine.
It's heart-breaking to even think what these people are going through.
I've made up a few small boxes of dried foods and some toiletries and baby bottles.
But please remember about the other loved ones, because it's not just people that need help, the animals left behind and the stays who were already looking for a home are in even more desperate need of help now.
I’m signed up emails from the International Fund for Animal Welfare and I read that they are preparing to rush emergency aid to two local animal shelters in Ukraine that urgently need help.
The Shelter Pif, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, has over 800 dogs and the staff there are looking after them. They can't evacuate, as it's not something that can be done without some planning.
There's also the Holivka Shelter, in Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine. Staff are not allowed to cook hot food for their dogs because the fire could draw unnecessary attention to the shelter.
They desperately need to buy dry food for the 300 dogs in their care and so I've sent a donation, hoping it helps.
Let's hope this all settles down soon with a peace talk and some clear thinking.