Norfolk crew bring one-month-old baby Hope to safety from Ukraine

EDP editor on mission to bring aid and assist Ukrainian refugees

One-month-old baby Hope has been brought to safety from Ukraine - Credit: David Powles

The Norfolk-led mercy mission working in Poland to help Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s bombs has successfully assisted in bringing a one-month-old baby called Hope to safety.

Adam Hale-Sutton, from Little Melton, is leading a group in Krakow, near to the border with the war-torn country.

I have joined them for the week, initially to drop off aid and then to assist in the support of Ukrainians who are arriving at the border near the village of Medyka.

EDP editor on mission to bring aid and assist Ukrainian refugees

The mission to find a baby car seat - Credit: David Powles

On Thursday the group - which also includes Richard Knight, from St Albans, and Vita, a Ukrainian who fled her city of Kyiv and is now acting as an interpreter - took a mini-bus and van to pick up a group of eight people seeking a safe haven.

This included a one-month-old girl called Hope - born on the day the Russian invasion began - her mother and teenage brother.

After dropping off food provisions at the border humanitarian aid centre, which will be delivered into Ukraine, the group had to seek a child’s car seat in order to bring Hope to their Krakow hotel base.

EDP editor on mission to bring aid and assist Ukrainian refugees

Richard Knight with United Sikhs - Credit: David Powles

A solo baby seat was identified along ‘The Passage’ - the route in which the refugees arrive into Poland - at the tent of a women’s charity called United Sikhs.

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The group then had to ferry eight Ukrainians, the family, plus two others, on a three-hour late night journey back to the hotel HQ in blizzard conditions.

Baby Hope is now among a dozen Ukrainians staying at the hotel while the group work with them to help them onto their next destination.

EDP editor on mission to bring aid and assist Ukrainian refugees

Richard Knight with the seat - Credit: David Powles

Adam, 43, told me: “What happened hasn’t really sunk in as yet. I’m still numb about what I’m seeing on a daily basis and I don’t think it will be until I am home with the family that I can process what has happened and reflect on it.”

Conditions at the Medyka crossing point rapidly worsened on Thursday, making life even harder for those fleeing their homeland.

There are also reports that the nearby relocation hub at the town of Przemaslaw, where refugees sleep on camp beds in an old Tesco supermarket, is struggling to cope.

Families, most of them women and children, are given two days to stay at the centre before being moved on.

However, charities told me that due to visa delays and with more and more people crossing the border, they were running out of alternative accommodation options.

EDP editor on mission to bring aid and assist Ukrainian refugees

EDP editor David Powles - Credit: David Powles

Earlier this week I told of growing frustration at the apparent lack of support and guidance for volunteers who are manning the British desk at the relocation hub and trying to process visas for those who already have sponsors in the UK.

They told how other countries were processing hundreds a day, while delays with the UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme meant the UK had issued none.

Last time I checked with the charity Love Bristol, they said three had now been successfully processed, but more than 100 were still not resolved.

Meanwhile, they are growing increasingly angry about the lack of Home Office representation on the ground in Poland itself.

A volunteer told me: “I didn’t expect to come out here and basically be running the show. Our volunteers process forms everyday and then go and sleep in a part-built house as they don’t want to waste our money. They are getting more and more tired and fed-up.”

I have contacted all of Norfolk and Waveney’s MPs about the issue, as well as the Home Office. As of Friday afternoon, only Clive Lewis and Richard Bacon have replied.

To see more of our reports visit online or follow David_powles on twitter for live updates.

Adam Hale-Sutton with donations for Ukraine.

Adam Hale-Sutton with donations for Ukraine. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

Three weeks in and mission is taking its toll.

Little Melton’s Adam Hale-Sutton has been assisting the refugees for three weeks now with little respite other than brief trips home to see his wife and two children.

He has decided to stay out here for potentially another two weeks in the hope of helping as many Ukrainians on their voyage to safety as possible.

After five days I feel tired, emotional and at times completely over-whelmed by the scale of it all – I can only imagine how he must be feeling.

He told me: “It’s hard, these are really long days, you get home late and then have to head out early again, there isn’t much rest.

“But I know how lucky I am to have my life back home and a family who are safe and I just want to help as many people as possible.”

Adam, who works in disaster recovery and has been given a sabbatical by his employers, Belfour, says he is also lucky to have the unwavering support of his family back home.

Nevertheless, the stresses and strains of what he is doing will, at times, clearly take its toll.

Having young children of his own, he says that is magnified when the group is called to help youngsters, such as little Jan, three, and one-month-old Hope, both of whom are currently safe in a room at our Krakow hotel makeshift HQ.

Throw in the fact that he is financially arranging for hotels, food, taxis, petrol and more to help - and no real idea when his GoFundMe page will pay out - and he deserves to have the utmost admiration of all who read about his journey.

I see part of my role on this trip as being there for Adam, however possible, to make sure he does not fall over.

Sometimes that’s been an end of the night beer, on other occasions, an ear to listen to his words of passion - and more often than not a massive man hug, which soon sorts everything out.

I leave on Saturday evening and, all being well, Adam has arranged for four more people from Norfolk to come out and assist his mission from Monday.

Right now they will be feeling the same nerves and trepidation as I did this time last week.

They will be wondering if what they are doing is right and perhaps even considering changing their mind.

I hope they stay on track, because Adam will need them and I know from experience they will soon realise they are doing exactly the right thing.

You can support Adam here.