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Supporting Ukraine

UK and Ireland health food retailers are all extremely caring and generous and are doing whatever they can to help, mostly ‘under the radar’.

The National Association of Health Stores has been encouraging giving to official sites where the Government will match their donations.

Many stores and suppliers are stepping up in imaginative ways. For example, Noah’s Health Food Store, Wallington, has been running an in-store raffle to win a hamper filled with goodies. Ruth Noah’s target is £1000 – “We have a good footfall so can reach many people,” she said. “If we all contribute what we can it can add up to a significant amount as a joint effort.”

This year’s St Patrick’s Day festival weekend, which was extended to a four-day celebration, was all green, blue and yellow. Irish independent retailers were among many schools and community groups that are stepping up to raise money or provide essential products in aid of Ukrainian refugees and war victims.

Organico in Bantry, County Cork raised more than €4,000 in cash from several in-store events. Shops including Horan’s (Kerry), Open Sesame (Galway and Clare) and The Aloe Tree, Clare, acted as collection hubs for supplies of toiletries, cleaning products and back up batteries, part of Ireland’s largest ever convoy of relief trucks departing from Dublin Port for a marathon drive to the Polish-Ukraine border.

Evergreen in Galway made a large donation to Doctors without Frontiers and many other stores donated prizes and fundraising proceeds from coffee mornings and raffles to UNICEF and the Red Cross, including The Natural Way (Clarinbridge), Harvest Fare (Blessington) and Golden Health Store (Longford).

Some Irish businesses are focusing on supporting refugees as they arrive with their host families. Healing Harvest (Kinvara), Nature’s Gold (Wicklow) and The Hopsack (Dublin) are all helping with welcome packs. Dargan’s, The Honey Pot, Back to Nature , Loop de Loop, Bee Healthy, Wholesome Gorey, Down to Earth and Well & Good all made fundraiser donations to UNICEF and the Red Cross.

For some suppliers, Ukraine’s plight was painfully close to home. Body & Mind Botanicals co-founder Martin Kaprockyj, whose grandfather fled the Ukraine in Stalin’s oppression after WW2, met his wife Iryna in Kyiv when he visited Ukraine 15 years ago.

“Since Russia invaded the Ukraine, we have been working hard to do all we can from here in the UK,” said Martin. “We take in daily donations of essential foods, medicines, hygiene products and clothes. We pack them up into sorted boxes and either hand them over to the Ukrainian Church in Peterborough or Help Ukraine BAMK (Bedford, Aylesbury & Milton Keynes), who organise the shipments from the UK to help refugees in the surrounding friendly countries or directly into Ukraine. We are also donating 900 pouches of Ginger Hemp Tea.

“However we have now run into issues which are preventing these goods getting into the hands of the people who need them. The lorries need money to buy fuel to drive from the UK and they need money to pay for the ferry to cross the channel. We have family and friends working as volunteers in the Ukraine to transport people out of the conflict areas and bring in fresh supplies, but they too have run out of money for fuel to make very dangerous trips.”

To overcome these problems, he recommends a JustGiving page set up to fill such logistics gaps: donations: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savetheukraine.

Another Ukrainian feeling the pain of Russia’s invasion is Weleda Group’s Chief Operating Officer, Nataliya Yarmolenko. She hails from Odessa in Ukraine but has been based at Weleda Germany for a few years and as a consequence is at the heart of the natural bodycare and wellbeing company’s support programme. So far, €100,000 of humanitarian aid has been donated and all trading in Russia has been suspended.

The team at Weleda Ukraine has been moved from Kyiv to safer locations including Slovakia and Moldova and Weleda companies in Eastern Europe are assisting with shipments for refugees. In the UK, Weleda will work with charities and organisations to support Ukrainian refugees as they arrive.

Meanwhile, Viridian donated £25,000 to the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal in mid-March in addition to its annual charity donation programme.

Here at New Natural Business, we are sure there are many more fine examples of the industry’s generosity and support and we will share more news on our social media feeds as we hear of them. Email alistair@jfnproductions.co.uk.

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