The Plant and Hire Aid Alliance consists of like-minded companies in the plant and plant hire industry who are acting together to support the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.
Over 10 million people have fled Ukraine since the conflict began. Leaving behind jobs, belongings and loved ones, they now face an uncertain future. Families have been separated. People have been injured. Lives have been lost.
Millions of refugees have fled to Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova, often arriving with only what they could carry.
On October 16th, 2022, a convoy of 16 vehicles from 32 alliance members will leave the UK carrying over 1,200 boxes heading for the Slovakian town of Košice to distribute the much-needed aid.
The driving force behind the Alliance is Jeremy Fish the CEO at Ardent Hire. UKPO Magazine caught up with Jeremy to find out more about the initiative, its objectives and why he is involved.
We started by looking back to March this year when the first convoy containing just 3 x vans, all packed with food, blankets and pharmaceuticals. It was during this first trip that it became clear to Jeremy what other items were in demand, with the top of the list being mattresses and food, in addition to how upscaling the effort might be achieved.
Jeremy commented, “On returning to the UK an ambitious target of 1,000 mattress was set to return to the Ukraine with. With support from the National Bed Federation and several bed manufacturers as well as members of the public, the total of mattresses about to be delivered will be 1,200 making a grand total of 1,400 mattresses”.
With the further support from alumni from Raleigh International, the Alliance was introduced to Westmill Foods who incredibly donated 17 tons of flour, oil and long-lasting food.
Jeremy even contacted his old school who hold an annual fund-raising event for a chosen charity, this year they agreed to support the Alliance and donated an impressive £14,000, which has bought another 13 tons of food, meaning the total amount delivered will top 30 tonnes.
More recently as Ukrainians return to Kiev, having fled to Slovakia, Czechia and Poland with just plastic shopping bags and the clothes on their back, it became clear that suitcases to aid their return would be we required. The Alliance was contacted by suitcase manufacturers Antler who donated 280 travel suitcases.
The support did not stop there with Orca Hygiene and Marsden Exhibitions, who, in a post pandemic world, were able to donate 50 tonnes of sanitiser and medical products. Now distributed to the army, schools and hospitals in addition to 80 boxes of surgical gowns and face visors that will be delivered via the next convoy.
The Alliance has also been fund raising with the amount now standing at £75,000 the cash being used to fund transport, sleeping bags and a van that has been converted into a makeshift ambulance.
So, what happens after the October convoy?
We all hope that the conflict will be over, and the effort can be wound down. With recent events in the now occupied regions of the Ukraine, this seems less likely. The thinking therefore is that a Spring convoy will be required.
It was very clear speaking with Jeremy that this was not about him or Ardent…Go and take a look at the website if you are unsure.
Yes, the alliance is led and directed by Jeremy, it will need leadership and direction.
The other abiding factor was the assurance that the aid is getting through. The vans are not unloaded at the side of the street, left in warehouses or thrown from the back of trucks, this is a well thought out strategic initiative, partnering as it does, with the Slovakian Rotary Club. With the distribution managed by Andriy Baganich a Ukrainian local businessman and past District Governor, who is using Slovakian and Ukrainian volunteers to deliver supplies from the city of Košice.
Andriy says, “There are 69 Rotary clubs throughout Ukraine, helping to distribute aid to those in need. Rotary is also working with dozens of charities in Ukraine, such as Women’s Union of Ukraine, Quality of Life, Foundation for Support and Development of Ukraine, Ukrainian Renaissance Foundation, Path of Life, in addition to numerous self-government bodies, schools and hospitals”.
I wondered where the motivation to help the Ukraine comes from, I was interested to learn that Jeremy worked in Russia for five years, launching and establishing Aggreko in the country. In addition to expanding the brand into the Ukraine. There is an obvious affinity for the region and their people…this means something to him.
As our conversation drew to a conclusion Jeremy said, “I feel a sense of real outrage at what is happening in Russia, a country that has so much potential and natural resources it really could be a China, India or a United States”.
Jeremy continued “I want this to be a hire industry initiative, a statement that we know what’s going on, we want to help and when the chips are down, we are united as industry colleagues, peers and competitors. A good industry with good people doing a collective good deed”.