BARNSLEY residents’ generosity has been praised after locals donated to a newly-formed appeal to help Ukrainians fleeing their wartorn country.
Spearheaded by businessman Henryk Matysiak, three vans loaded with donated items will be driven more than 1,000 miles to Poland where thousands of refugees have sought asylum having escaped Russia’s invasion.
Henryk, of Hunters Avenue in Pogmoor, took it upon himself to use his family connections to set up the collection.
Drop-off points so far in Barnsley include McLintocks Business Centre on Summer Lane between 8am and 4pm on weekdays, Wortley Private Club, 23 Cutty Lane in Old Town and Tankersley Welfare Hall.
The ex-firefighter, who was based at Barnsley station for more than a decade, has aunties, uncles and cousins in Poland - a connection he says helped him come up with the idea to run the collection.
The 59-year-old told the Chronicle local support has already ‘flooded in’ - and praised well-wishers for helping the cause.
“There are a lot of Ukrainians fleeing to Poland at the moment and my family are already helping over there,” he said.
“This is something that isn’t going to stop being a need for people.
“I thought, with my connections, this is a tiny way in which I can help.
“Help is coming in thick and fast since I first asked people if they could help me with the collection.”
The invasion, which has been met with widespread condemnation, comes after President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions held in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels as independent states and ordered troops into the territories.
Henryk plans to make the trip during the third week in March, by which time he hopes there will a substantial amount of donations collected.
The items needed most include clothes, toiletries, blankets, and non-perishable foods.
He only put the feelers out on social media last Saturday, and after receiving an ‘overwhelming’ response, decided to go through with his efforts.
Despite running his own businesses, he plans to play a key role in making the trip, but is calling for help from volunteers.
The logistics of the plan are mostly what he says he needs help with, as to get the vans across to Poland will require a team effort.
“It would really help if we could get some local storage where we can sort and get ready for transporting,” he added.
“It looks like we need it already with what’s coming in.
“We also need any help with transport and fuel, so if there are any haulage firms or vehicle hire companies out there, we’d appreciate their help.”
Henryk can be contacted for further details of drop-off points via his Facebook - Ryk Matysiak.