Published by Scott Challinor on April 13th 2022, 1:01am
Crisp Vocational Provision has overcome much adversity to complete an aid run of essential items to Ukrainian refugees fleeing from conflict in Eastern Europe.
The Nottingham-based alternative education provider had amassed a plethora of items donated to its aid appeal, including food, toiletries and toys for children. Derby-based independent prep school and nursery, The Old Vicarage School, also wrote letters for Ukrainian children to receive and read that were packaged alongside the key supplies.
Crisp Vocational Provision owner, Kevin Crisp, had planned to begin a drive to Poland with the essential items on Sunday, April 3, leaving the donations with a local charity that would then take charge of distributing them to displaced refugees.
However, at 12:30 BST on Saturday April 2, the day before departure, Kevin received a call from the Polish charity requesting that the donations be deposited at a depot and advising him and his accompanying colleague, Simon, not to make the journey.
After failed attempts to negotiate, Kevin, who is a member of The Leaders Council, reached out to a fellow member who had recently completed his own aid run to Ukrainian refugees: Total Trauma Cleaning boss, Jim Gildea.
Recalling the experience to The Leaders Council, Kevin said: “After being told by the charity that we weren’t to travel and having faced frustrated attempts to negotiate, I emailed Jim [Gildea] and he was brilliant with us.
“Jim advised us who to contact, what paperwork we needed to complete to make the trip, and it turned out to be a real success in the end. Without the support of Jim and of The Leaders Council, this aid run would not have happened.”
Following Jim Gildea’s advice, the trajectory of Kevin and Simon’s journey was altered, and the duo opted to follow in Jim’s footsteps by instead depositing the supplies to a charity in Romania to reach Ukrainians in need.
The change of plan enabled Kevin and Simon to depart on Sunday April 3 as initially intended. By 11:00 BST that same night, the pair had made it as far as France and had passed through Belgium and the Netherlands en route to Germany by the following day.
Reflecting on the first leg of the trip, Kevin said: “It wasn’t the smoothest of journeys to begin with! We knew that it would initially take us longer to complete the journey going to Romania, but we felt it was worth the effort to get our supplies to the refugees and support them. We then ended up losing two hours trying to fix something on the passenger door with a plastic knife before we could get back on the road!”
Having successfully resolved the issue and resumed travel, Kevin and Simon arrived at the premises of non-profit organisation Speranță pentru Viitor in Valea Cufundoasă, Romania at 01:20 BST on the morning of April 5, less than two full days after their departure from the UK. Although, the arrival did not prove to be entirely smooth.
Kevin laughed: “We owe a massive thank you to Orio and his team at Speranță pentru Viitor for their hospitality and their support in freeing our mini bus after Simon managed to get it stuck! Fortunately, we were able to get moving and handed the supplies over 40 minutes after arrival.”
The supplies were distributed to Ukrainian refugees that had successfully fled the conflict, while some were taken by runners across the border into Ukraine to individuals living in war zones with no aid available.
Kevin said: “We have consent for some supplies to be taken across the border and into Ukraine to directly help those in conflict zones to whom aid had not got to.
“The charity loved the efforts we had made and were extremely grateful for everything we did. They also appreciated the handwritten letters by student from The Old Vicarage School and some written by our own students at Crisp Vocational Provision, which they felt was a lovely gesture.”
Kevin and Simon then made the return journey to the UK, making it back into the country at 09:37 BST on the morning of April 6.
“It was extremely tiring but so very worth it,” said Kevin.
“It is fantastic what teamwork can achieve and a huge thanks should go to all who donated, without whose generosity this would not have been possible.
“A huge thank you must also go to The Leaders Council and to Jim Gildea, whose support has been valued. This is also a great success story for collaborative working among members of The Leaders Council and is a testament to the benefits of the network on the community, the country and the wider world.”