Northampton business transports aid, rescues refugees from Ukraine and raises more than £80,000 with work ongoing

With one of the two business-owners being from Ukraine the war has struck a very personal chord

By Max Pearson
Monday, 4th April 2022, 6:19 pm

A Northampton couple with ties to Ukraine is helping to transport aid and refugees for Ukraine and have raised more than £80,000.

The effort, spearheaded by the owners of the Riverside Hub in Northampton, has already delivered thousands of pounds worth of aid and rescued hundreds of refugees.

They have done this, in part, by matching donations made on their JustGiving page.

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With "nothing but time on their hands", according to Valentina, many of the volunteer drivers are refugees themselves

Ellis Potter, 51, who joint-owns the Hub, said: “People want to fundraise to help the people in Ukraine and so whatever they donate we will match. So we’ll double the donations, basically.

"We’re also paying for a coach to go into Ukraine from Poland to deliver aid like food and medical supplies. Clothes are not really needed right now so it’s all about what they are running out of. Each truckload has cost about £10,000 to £15,000.

"Because we have people there in Ukraine, we can deliver what they need like food, sanitary and medical supplies.”

The Hub is also helping Ukrainian refugees, first to get out of Ukraine and then to find welcoming homes in the UK by finding them sponsors for free.

Valentina (left) with sister Anya (right) and her two young children.

By switching their trucks out for a 50-seater bus, the enterprise is now able to first deliver huge amounts of supplies, then return with a bus-load of refugees to the safety of Poland, which has taken in around two million, according to the EU.

The Hub owners claim to have delivered four coachloads of supplies and rescued around 200 people.

Ellis said: “It’s absolutely horrific what’s going on over there, with all the atrocities that are going on. It’s absolutely barbaric. It is genocide, in my opinion.

"Yet at the same time it is remarkable, and quite humbling really, that people are willing to open up their homes to someone else they’ve never met, who might not speak the same language, who might be traumatised, that is really something.

"So the more money we raise, the more money we can get over there. It’s that simple.”

Valentina Potter, 40, who co-owns The Hub, said she has been working full-time to coordinate aid. Valentina, who is from Ukraine originally, said financial donations are the most efficient way to help Ukraine. But she warned that some are taking advantage.

Valentina said: ”We’re very frugal people in Ukraine, and we don’t like to waste money. We want to stretch the money where it needs to be stretched.

"If you buy a tin of beans in the UK, then send it to Ukraine, you have to pay the UK price for it, then pay for shipping and fuel and so on for it to get there a lot later. For that price we can buy two or three tins of beans in Polish shops at the lower Polish prices and then deliver them straight into Ukraine.

"People also have to be wary of who they give money to. I’ve heard people quoting £700 to find a sponsor to come to the UK, meanwhile we’re doing it for free.”

To donate or learn more people can visit The Hub's JustGiving page, which has raised £82,050 so far.

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