That was the advice from the headteacher of a primary school in Longton which has swung behind the burgeoning aid effort being mobilised across Lancashire in support of Ukrainian families who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety in neighbouring Poland.
Bernadette Wood, who leads St. Oswald’s Catholic Primary School on Chapel Lane, says that she and her staff were inundated with donations within just 24 hours of announcing that they would be collecting goods as part of an appeal launched by the TippyToes Baby Bank in Leyland.
While the school’s efforts have been motivated by a desire to do whatever they can to bring some relief to those who have become refugees in the blink of an eye, Mrs. Wood says that the generosity of pupils’ families and the wider community can have an unintended benefit.
“One of the things that really helps children [in these circumstances] is to know that they themselves are helping. If they know that they are helping somebody, that can actually alleviate a lot of the anxiety that they may be feeling,” Mrs. Wood explained.
She added that the school had not shied away from trying to address the worries of a cohort of children that has already had the trauma of Covid to deal with over the last two years.
“The older children have had lots of questions [about Ukraine], so staff have been very aware that there is anxiety around all of this.
“So it’s about supporting the children, answering their questions and being quite transparent with them about what is happening, factually – and also telling them that if they are feeling worried, then that is quite normal, because it shows they care.
“As a Catholic school, we have lit our candles and said our prayers. We start Lent this week and are dedicating Ash Wednesday as a day of praying for peace.
“We also said let’s just do what we can – however little it is – and share what we’ve got for those who need us most at the moment,” Mrs. Wood said.
Donations which have flooded into the school include baby food, nappies, towels, blankets, woolly hats, gloves and toiletries.
Teaching assistant Gemma Dexter said that it will likely take several car loads to transport all they have received to the baby bank, from where it will be put on lorries and dispatched to Poland in the coming days.
“I think everybody is feeling helpless right now – but if we can just do our own bit and all pull together, that’s all we can really do,” she said.
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