A Ukrainian family, who fled their country and are being hosted in Bedford, have inspired a local shop-owner to raise money to help those who remain caught up in the conflict.
And just hours after the raffle launched this morning, nearly £1,500 had already been raised.
Sergey, Maria and their children are being hosted by a family in Bedford, who introduced them to Gemma Crawley-Roberts of the Arc, after discovering that the family had their own art studio in Ukraine.
“We chatted and I offered them the use of the shop to run some workshops,” said Gemma.
“Since then, Sergey and Maria have hosted marbling classes in our shop which have been hugely successful. While chatting on WhatsApp [Sergey uses it as it is easy to cut and paste into Google Translate] I asked how his home town was.
“The answer was pretty devasting.”
Gemma explained that Sergey and Maria’s former life in Ukraine before the Russian invasion was no different to ours and that the shock at what has happened to them is huge.
“He described watching the fighter planes dropping bombs from his window like ‘feeling that you are watching a movie on TV about the war. It seems that it’s not you, that it can’t be’.”
Sergey’s parents are in their 70’s and didn’t want to leave their home. He has some friends from his church who also stayed behind to help the humanitarian effort. There is no water in his town and the town next door is already occupied by Russian forces, people are in immediate need.
“You can’t listen to this story, knowing you could help, and do nothing,” said Gemma.
So, she rounded up the best of Bedford’s independent businesses to see if they could donate something towards a raffle to raise money to help the residents of Sergey’s home town.
Phenomenal response from #BedfordIndies
“The response was PHENOMENAL and then as soon as I posted it on instagram more and more offers of prizes came flooding in. At the last count, we have 53 prizes donated by 27 businesses.
“The value of these prizes is in the £1000’s. I have had quite a few tears along the way at the generosity shown. I always knew the community here was wonderful, this was proved during lockdown and has just continues to be proved.”
Four of the seven prize hampers
Gemma has put together seven prize hampers, with donations from businesses including Neon Marl, épanoui, Boyds of Bedford, LSA, Hannah Carvell and Slide Records, to name but a few who jumped at the chance to help out.
The raffle launches today and tickets are £10 each. To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org
with your email address and how many tickets you want. You will then be sent a payment link that includes your raffle numbers.