Response to Ukraine’s plight was immediate from all over East Anglia. Everybody’s social media was suddenly frantic with offers of goods. among the hundreds, we choose just one to show the public’s spirit. One of those appalled was Alison Moffat, who lives near Framlingham in Suffolk. She put something on the Framlingham community page of Facebook and was astonished at the immediate response.
“It’s been a real cross section, but most striking is how the response has mainly been from young mothers,’” she says. ‘I’ve been humbled and bowled over, and I’ve had a little weep about just how kind people are.
“I suppose we all watch it unfolding on television and it’s the sight of women and children crossing the borders. We just can’t imagine what it must be like.
“We’ve been so privileged not having had to put up with anything like that. Our children watch what’s happening and get upset at what they see. Mothers feel so helpless, so they ask themselves: ‘How can I help?’
“One of my friends said she’s finding it so difficult to explain it to her seven-year-old when he watches families trying to leave and asks: ‘Why don’t they just take everything with them?’”
She and her friends find themselves talking about the prospect of British young men going over to fight for Ukraine, as in the International Brigade in the Spanish civil war, and ask themselves: “Would our boys go and fight?”
One anecdote sums up the mood.
“People have been going to the local Co-op to buy up loads of stock: nappies and things, and the women at the cash desk were saying: ‘Oh, we know where that’s going. Can you hang on a minute? I’ll get something and perhaps you can add it to the rest.’
“Both the florist and the dry cleaners have said to drop stuff off with them to be picked up. Somebody else called to say: ‘I’m filling out an Amazon order… tick tick tick tick tick, this will be with you tomorrow.’
“One lovely woman whose husband died last year has brought me all his lovely quality woollen jumpers. Because instead of putting them in a black bin-liner and consigning them to anonymity, she had that rather cosy feeling of knowing her husband’s clothes were going where there is desperate need.”
And an elderly man living alone in Norfolk wrote to EAB:
“I am a pretty old Englishman living by myself in a very rural position. I am unable to offer my physical services, however I can offer free accommodation in my cottage for a couple or maybe six months. This offer is open to any Ukrainian couple escaping from their country.
“If I can help let me know.”
Every offer and every act of kindness is likely to be needed by Ukraine in the weeks and months ahead. Nobody can tell where the turmoil will lead, but we must accept in anguish that things can only get worse before they can get better. How much worse we can only conjecture. All of our goodwill and solidarity is going to be called upon to help the Ukrainian people through this nightmare.