Scott Hopkins speaks to JLife about his drive across Europe with friend Derek Parker to support Ukrainian refugees on the Polish border.
Scott Hopkins is preparing for a second journey across Europe to support Ukrainian refugees just weeks after returning to his home in Shadwell. Travelling in March with childhood friend Derek Parker, the pair transported medical supplies provided by the Red Cross Emergency Appeal to the Polish town of Przemysl, where thousands of Ukrainian refugees have fled from the Russian invasion.
Using Derek’s own van to make the trip, the pair drove for two days through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany to get to Poland. The pair also documented their journey with regular video updates posted on social media sharing their experiences with families and friends back home.
“We had to quickly turn off the first video after arriving to the camp because the situation was so harrowing,” said Scott. “There were just scenes of devastation everywhere. Over 2,000 refugees had arrived in the first three hours we were there. There were crying women and children everywhere, not knowing if they would be staying or having to move on somewhere else. It was terribly sad to see.”
Scott and Derek raised around £3,500 in crowd funded donations to buy extra supplies for the refugees after arriving in Przemysl, before starting the long journey home: “We were given a shopping list from the camp coordinator of items the refugees desperately needed,” explained Scott.
“We took it to the local supermarket, buying shampoos, moisturisers, and suitcases for the refugees who have only been allowed to take two carrier bags of items from home. Within just 10 minutes of delivering these extra supplies, all the items were gone. You couldn’t need it more urgently than that.
“We found it very difficult to leave the camp in the end. I know we had achieved a lot when we were there, but it still felt like we were turning our backs on people who needed us. But we’ve learnt a lot from the experience and have a better idea of what to expect for next time.
“Hopefully we can get another full van of supplies ready to return in April. Without my wife Alexis helping to set this up, I couldn’t have done any of this. Since the word has gotten out, we have also had so many calls offering assistance from volunteers wanting to do the same. The support has just been brilliant.”
To find out more and support Scott for his second trip, visit Justgiving.com/crowdfunding/scott-hopkins