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Volunteering for Ukraine – Van Aid

CSI’s Andy Briggs is travelling to the Ukraine border on 14th April as part of a convoy to deliver supplies and satellite communication kits that he has sourced – read his volunteering story and see how you can get involved… 

Ukraine Volunteering, Van Convoy and Satellite Communications Kits

I have travelled to Ukraine on a few occasions and met friends who are now fighting to defend their country. There is no justification for the invasion of such a beautiful and friendly country, so along with a few mates who came with me to visit Ukraine last trip, we decided we wanted to do something to help the people displaced from their homes, and also for those that have stayed to fight. I have since become involved in a few things that have been taking up nearly every waking hour outside of work!

Volunteering in Rugby – weekends, some evenings and annual leave

I have been volunteering with mates, local people and anyone I have roped into it, for a group of local, national and international charities at a warehouse that has been donated to us near Rugby. All the collections being made around the area by other businesses and charities come to the warehouse for sorting, packing and loading onto pallets to be sent on articulated lorries to the main humanitarian warehouses in Poland/Slovakia/Romania. 

This is then distributed accordingly – locally to help refugees and refugee centres, or across the border to Ukraine to supply field hospitals, towns and cities with supplies, and also to help the many civilians who have unexpectedly become soldiers. In the beginning, we sent out multiple vans, and more recently have sent out 22 articulated lorries, all of which have been donated along with volunteer drivers by local businesses & the community.

Main volunteering is Saturday 12-5 pm at Mitchells Potatoes, near Rugby, CV23 9QQ

If anyone locally would like to volunteer please let me know! Here is my LinkedIn profile 🙂

Charities involved

Association of Ukrainians in UK, Order of Malta (Poland), Together Non-Profits Nuneaton, Van Aid, and many local generous businesses.

Van Aid

I will be leaving the UK on 14th April in a convoy of vans with Van Aid for the Poland/Ukraine border, destination to be confirmed…

Van Aid is a non-profit that was set to help get aid for Ukraine to reach the more remote places that the big lorries cannot. They now work with a huge network of organisations, charities, convents, refugee centres, local churches & communities all along the Polish, Slovakian and Romanian borders with Ukraine, and have sent hundreds of vans over.

These are all self-funded trips by individuals or companies who can spare time and are willing to drive to wherever help is requested. I wanted to see what happens to all the aid we have sent out on the lorries too, so I will be spending a day or two at the international aid warehouse on the border and hopefully catch one of our lorries arriving that we will have loaded up a few days earlier, to unload it again!

Van-Aid | Facebook is a good source of updates and photos.

Starlink Satellite kits

Due to the lack of power, internet and phone signal in the areas where my friends are operating in civilian units, I have been working with a few of them to figure out a way of providing an affordable mobile satellite solution. We have settled on the SpaceX Starlink satellite terminals (as Elon Musk sent a load over and turned on Ukraine coverage), however, the dishes are motorized and use a lot of power when they align to the satellites.

I have ordered 2 of these kits myself a further one with some other donations. To make it portable and not dependent on mains power, I have managed to get a bespoke 220V solar panel kit that can output 180W made up by a US Solar panel company to test, which will be constructed at their Poland warehouse and collected in the next 10 days.

We have figured out the wiring diagrams and what needs to be cut and spliced to run off 12V too for night-time usage. Basically, a bit like how people use 220V mains, and 12V solar and batteries on RVs/caravans/boats. Currently, the guys run off batteries and mains invertors so they have to drive the batteries away from the front line to where they can charge them either from mains or generators and swap them back fully charged.

How can you help?

General donations to the Ukraine aid cause that I have been volunteering for can be made via the “Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal” GoFundMe page.

To directly support our convoy trip leaving on 14th April, we’ve set up a PayPal page you can access here.

Any help, support, advice, or donations are all greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading.

CSI Azure Consultant, Andy Briggs