EDP in Poland update: Baby Hope is safe but the work carries on

EDP editor on mission to bring aid and assist Ukrainian refugees

Baby Hope - Credit: David Powles

"When you get home you'll need to find the time to process it all."

During my recent trip to Poland to assist and report on the humanitarian work out there to help the Ukrainians fleeing Putin's war, this was the phrase I heard more than any other.

As, hopefully, my articles highlighted, the trip was a dizzying experience made up of long days, multiple decisions and multiple highs and lows.

From the low at seeing the lack of Home Office attempts to ease the process for Ukrainians coming to this country, to the high of finding a car safety seat for one-month-old baby Hope.

There wasn't really much time to think about what was happening, other than a quick drink in the bar at the very end of the night and maybe a stroll along the river.

In the two full days since returning, I've definitely still not had time to process it all, given the need to catch up with my family and then return to work.

(L-R) David Powles, Richard Knight, Adam Hale-Sutton have met Ukranian mother-of-one Vita who has fl

(L-R) David Powles, Richard Knight, Adam Hale-Sutton have met Ukranian mother-of-one Vita who has fled the fighting in Kyiv. - Credit: Archant

One thing I hadn't accounted for, was that the work to help didn't have to stop even though I was flying out of Poland on Saturday.

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Parts of Sunday were spent liaising with the team still in the Krakow hotel about various issues, as well as coming up with a plan for how to help those who want to come to this country for a haven.

There was upset at harrowing images coming out of Bucha, which showed the attacks from Russia are still very real.

Two more Norfolk men, Chris Ketley and Tristan Cork, from Hethersett, have now headed out to help, so we met for a cup of tea on Sunday night so they could be debriefed on what it would be like.

The hope is that some of those refugees staying in the Ibis Hotel in Poland might come together to Norfolk, where they know us and know each other. So Monday evening was spent setting up meet and greets over WhatsApp video.

It seems to make sense that, if we have Norfolk people bringing refugees to safety in Poland, there should be a link with our own Norfolk County Council to try and bring them here.

That way they would already have a network in place to support them, of fellow Ukrainians they've come to know and English people, plus their families, who they met in the hotel. Those discussions are due to happen imminently.

I've also been staying in touch with those families whom I met out there and finding out where they have ended up.

Baby Hope, mum and her brother are now safely with a family in Ireland, and I hope to have a photo soon.

Ukrainian family

Ukraine family Iva, Irina and Mackar - Credit: David Powles

The same for the two families of five, including six-year-old Makar, who arrived on the same day.

Little three-year-old Jan and mum remain at the Krakow hotel, along with Vita, her son Mykyta and dog Asya, Larisa and her son Bohdan and a dear elderly lady who has become lovingly known as 'gran not gran' due to initial confusion over her relationship with others.

Hopefully their next journey will begin soon, but you may not be surprised to learn the government do not make the form filling process particularly easy.

So as yet, I certainly haven't started 'to process' the crazy last few days. Part of me wants to be back there, part of me is content with the fact I've done my bit and hopefully will find ways to continue doing so.

Emotionally, at times it can be surprisingly difficult. We joked on the trip that I could never fight a war, I'd be crying too much to shoot straight!

I spent a week on the edge of war and the emotional impact has been great. It hits hard in the mornings and I feel so sad for the Ukrainian people.

I have a new found respect for anyone who withstands the chaos of actual combat to defend their country.

This morning I tallied up how many people we hopefully helped in that week in Poland. The total was 23, including at least eight children, plus a cat and a dog.

It feels like a tiny drop in the ocean - but it is at least something I guess?