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Pebbles supporting Ukrainian refugees: A 5-day trip to deliver donations to Poland

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine forcing millions of people to flee their much-loved country, we have decided to support our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who have been left with nothing but their courage and hope.

We became aware that people from Fife, in Scotland, had collected donations for the refugees over the Polish border and were looking for drivers and vehicles to deliver them. Therefore, we offered our two school minibuses and sought drivers among our employees, receiving an astonishing response with 29 volunteers in total, which is testament to the caring nature of our people.

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We know that every little helps, and with so much goodwill and kindness demonstrated among our workforce, we decided to go a step further and donate £50 for each volunteer, totalling £1,450, to Oxfam DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee).

Our amazing drivers

Meet the fabulous Pebbles team members who were chosen to undertake this humanitarian mission:

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Stephen Purdy
Residential Child Care Worker, Ruby House
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Jade Vallantine
Registered Manager, Whispers House

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Laura Stewart
Residential Child Care Worker, Glen Cottage

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Luke Chadwick
Registered Manager, Amber House

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As part of a convoy of five vans, our drivers started this long but certainly rewarding journey on Monday, April 4, 2022, at 6 am, with destination Toruń, the regional capital of Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, an area which Fife is paired with.

Pebbles supporting Ukrainian refugees: A 5-day trip to deliver donations to Poland Trip to Poland web

Here we share with you daily pictures and highlights from Stephen, Luke, Laura, and Jade’s trip to Poland.

Day One: Departing from Fife

Day one started with an early departure from Fife, where Jade and Laura met with the rest of the group from the convoy, heading towards Yorkshire to pick up Luke and Stephen. The next destination was Dover, where our team members crossed the Strait on a ferry and reached Calais, France, to stay overnight.

They embarked on this journey with a big smile on their faces and lots of energy. This first day was an amazing start!

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Day Two: Getting to Berlin

Our colleagues woke up in France, got breakfast in Belgium, quickly passed through the Netherlands, and headed towards Berlin, where they arrived safely after almost 700 miles of driving and 11.5 hours on the road.

Luke told us: “Not to waste the opportunity, we headed out to explore. After working out the tram system, we went to the centre to view the Branderburg Gate and the Jewish Memorial. We also went to ‘Freedom Square’ to pay our respects.”

Freedom Square is located in front of the Russian embassy, becoming a mandatory stop for such a meaningful trip.

The group did some more wandering around and found a little pub for a quick refreshment, then went back to the hotel to get a well-deserved good night’s sleep before the next leg to Toruń.

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Freedom Square
Berlin

Day Three: Arriving in Toruń

During this ‘big day’ Stephen, Laura, Luke, and Jade hit the road at 6 am to cross yet another border and reach Toruń around 11 am.

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In the early afternoon, they were welcomed by local voluntary groups and US soldiers at a disused factory that has become a warehouse for humanitarian aid.

Our team members formed a chain with the presents to help unload the vans and sort the donations. Their assistance was received with great gratitude, as it was made clear by the people at the aid distribution centre that the donated goods would be hugely helpful.

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The drivers of the convoy then made an important acquaintance by meeting the Marshal, who in the region is the equivalent of the First Minister, and his officers, who offered them coffee and typical gingerbread, which is used to greet guests, along with the possibility to ask questions about the situation.

The Marshal also gave each of them a gift bag containing Toruń’s gingerbread, a pot of honey produced from the hive on the Marshal office’s roof, a Poland overview book, and a comic book by a local writer.

This shows the huge kindness and hospitality of the Polish people, who have already opened their doors to over two million refugees from Ukraine, of which over 100,000 are in the region of Toruń alone. The meeting with the Marshal was a chance to learn about how the government is helping with this humaniterian crisis. It was explained to our volunteers that all the Ukrainians that are entering the country are immediately granted access to health care, jobs, and education.

Children who don’t speak Polish are learning in classrooms and dedicated centres so they can join the new school year in a few months. They seem to be supporting them in every way they can, so much so that the locals of Toruń built a care home for 15 severely disabled refugees within two days.

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The evening reserved for them another touching moment. Our volunteers were invited to a reception in one of the oldest buildings in the city. The head game keeper had arranged for some deer and other delicacies to be sampled, as well as a few beers and some Polish vodka.

It is here that they met some Ukrainian refugees to hear their stories and learn more about the injustice of war. Our colleagues also spoke with an American soldier, Adam, who is organising the distribution of the aid.

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We met three amazing women, two of whom are also mothers. They’re all refugees and are truly inspirational. They fled their country with their children, leaving their husbands and brothers to fight in the war. Words can’t express how emotional it was to hear their stories, and we feel honoured to have helped in the smallest of ways!

Day Four: Leaving Poland

With hearts full of emotions, our team members left Toruń at 6:20 am, beginning a 720-mile drive to Antwerp, Belgium, via Germany and the Netherlands. The agenda included a meal to celebrate the achievements of this remarkable journey and reflect together on the last few days.

Along the way, the weather was hostile for a while, but thankfully the sun started shining again, guaranteeing a safer and more enjoyable journey.

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Day Five: Returning to the Kingdom

The last day of a journey always includes reflections on the experienced moments. No one is ever the same after travelling, and this is certainly the case for Stephen, Laura, Jade, and Luke, who bring back home memories of the refugees they met, of speaking with the Marshal about how the government is dealing with the wave of Ukranian people entering Poland, and of the piles of donations arriving from all over the world, which show how far human kindness can go beyond cruelty.

And with all these memories, our team members headed towards Calais, France, to embark on a ferry directed to Dover and commence another drive, this time back in the United Kingdom, where they safely arrived on Friday, April 8th.

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A message from one of the refugees met by our volunteers

We met three amazing women, two of whom are also mothers. They’re all refugees and are truly inspirational. They fled their country with their children, leaving their husbands and brothers to fight in the war. Words can’t express how emotional it was to hear their stories, and we feel honoured to have helped in the smallest of ways.

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