A Dundee minister will set off for Northern Ireland on Monday with around £12,000 in aid collected for refugees fleeing Ukraine.
The Reverend Dr Nathan McConnell of Downfield Mains Church spoke to The Courier ahead of his journey.
The minister, who has a PhD in migration and refugee studies, also highlighted the role churches could play in responding to the crisis in Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
The church has been coordinating donations from locals across the city after many felt moved to do what they could do help those affected by the war.
As well as clothes, Downfield issued an appeal for shower gel, nappies and sanitary items and sleeping bags, which Rev McConnell said will be in high demand.
After dropping the items collected in Dundee off in Northern Ireland they will be shipped to Poland where refugees are crossing the border from Ukraine.
“We’re heading to Northern Ireland and dropping it all at a large depot there so it can head through the EU to Poland,” he said.
“There are a number of church partnerships and charities that will receive it in Kraków before it’s distributed to the border.”
Downfield Mains Church has now closed its collection after an overwhelming response, which included a £5,000 donation from the Trussell Trust.
Rev McConnell expressed his thanks to those who had responded so generously.
“In Dundee, I know people are so keen to help and we are so grateful for that,” he said.
“We all understand this is evil and that it’s time to make a stand for truth.”
Speaking about the response to the crisis and how that will develop, Rev McConnell said: “Right now we’re in phase one, which is about making sure the immediate needs of refugees are met once they flee across the border.
“Poland, the Czech Republic and Moldova are all doing a really good job of just allowing people in and housing them, and that’s phase one.
“But even with that Poland will need things like nappies and other targeted logistical support.
“So we’re taking items like medical supplies, nappies and shower gels, things that will be overrun and taken off the shelves quite quickly.”
Rev McConnell also highlighted the role the church could play in responding to the crisis.
“As we see right now, the government’s hands are tied because they have rules.
“We have the ability to do things they don’t have the ability to do.
“The church network is wide, we’ve had hundreds of people of all denominations in Dundee turn up to help.”
Looking at the longer term, he said he also hoped his church could help refugees arriving in the UK to settle.
“The UK Government has an unbelievable resource in the church, it’s our mandate to love God and love others. We are tailor-made to receive refugees,” he said.
Dundee minister emphasises churches role in responding to Ukraine crisis
But he explained politicians would need to allow those like Downfield Mains Church to play a role.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed the UK Government will support a humanitarian sponsorship pathway, allowing refugees without family ties to be supported by charities and businesses.
Rev McConnell said part of this should involve a role for churches.
“It’s one thing that organisations can bring refugees here, it’s another to allow churches to sponsor refugees,” he said.
“Once they put that clause in then it would allow Downfield Mains Church and others to create space and provide for people in Poland or who are trying to flee Ukraine.
“It’s vital the government understands this.”