Smethwick community sending supplies to Ukraine via Poland

Imran Hameed, the founder of the volunteer group Bearded Broz and Salma food bank in Smethwick, has launched an appeal to help Ukrainians following the Russian invasion

A community group which delivered thousands of food parcels during the pandemic has launched a clothing appeal to help Ukrainians fleeing the war.

The Bearded Broz volunteer group, set up in Smethwick seven years ago by Imran Hameed, is urging people to donate clothing, including jackets and shoes, for those crossing the border into Poland.

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Mr Hameed, who had the first clothing donation within an hour of launching the appeal on Monday, said he and the volunteers would then either drive the donations to Poland themselves, or combine forces with other groups, which are shipping much-needed supplies.

mran Hameed, founder of the volunteer group Bearded Broz in Smethwick, Birmingham, with some donations of clothing to send to Ukrainians fleeing into Poland following the Russian invasion

He added that powdered baby milk formula and nappies were also being sought.

Speaking of the crisis in Ukraine, he said: “These are real people this is a real situation, these guys had a nine-to-five, these guys sent their kids to school.

“I need your help.”

Imran Hameed, the founder of Salma food bank

The group has offered practical help to communities since it was set up, delivering up to 100,000 parcels to residents during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Imran also runs the Salma food bank, which he says is the only emergency 24-hour food bank in the UK.

Mr Hameed said: “Our fellow human beings are in trouble.

“They’re trying to flee the war.

“We’re trying to help, we’re trying to put an appeal together where people can give us clothing, and we can get this out to charities who are on the ground.”

He added the group needed “anything and everything” for men, women and children.

“We’re looking for jackets, we’re looking for boots – but if you’ve just got a T-shirt that’s fine,” said Mr Hameed.

Mr Hameed said he initially wanted enough to fill a 7.5 ton container.

“We are liaising with the charities on the ground we’re going to be partnering with other people; either we’ll be taking this ourselves or hitching a ride with somebody else who is sending a container over,” he said.

Donations can be dropped at the organisation’s depot at Unit 8 Ash Court in Crystal Drive, Smethwick, B66 1QG, which is open Monday to Friday, 9am until 6pm.

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