Some of Slipaczek’s existing clients have also chipped in to help fund the 25 Ukrainians living in his house with essential supplies.
“Believe it or not, many of our existing clients, having heard what we are doing without being informed officially, have offered assistance,” he said. “The last two days (March 9,10), we’ve had four offers of help.”
Calling on his fellow peers, Slipaczek addressed the industry: “With the disgrace of the British Steel debacle, when we thought the profession had cleaned up its act, we’re still perceived to be pariahs.
“Now is the time to forget about the Caribbean holidays, plush leased offices and top-of-the-range cars. Now is the time to put your hands in your pocket.”
‘I wasn’t prepared for what I saw’
Penny, who is 37, set out alone to take supplies to Poland. Having stocked up on things like paper plates, disposable cups, energy bars, and power cord extensions from a Lidl in Germany, he headed to Chelm, a Polish city some 25 kilometres from the Ukrainian border.
In all, the journey covered 1,000 miles of road and took him 23 hours. After starting to unload his supplies at a church, Penny was told: ‘We’ve got too much’. “In some areas, there’s been a huge outpouring [of support] which is great,” he explained.
This prompted Penny to drive to Hrebenne, a border crossing in Poland. “I’ve never seen a refugee camp,” said Penny. “I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. It’s really quite upsetting. It’s really grim. There’s tents everywhere, by the road.”
A man at a soup station directed Penny to a donation drop-off point, after which he decided to drive to Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine which is 44 miles from the Polish border, in order to give families a lift out of the country.
Penny gave a mother and her daughter a lift, as well as a family of three, out of the city. He said the queue to Poland was nine miles long, with checkpoints, guns, anti-tank traps, and bunkers everywhere, as pictured below. “You edged forward a metre or a car length, it was very slow.”
Lots of people do not have the luxury of a vehicle in Ukraine, according to Penny. “I saw people walking to the border with pets, children and their belongings in minus 2 and 3 degrees at night.”