A major collection effort is underway by students and staff at the University of Sunderland’s School of Medicine to help provide essential items for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

In response to the desperate plight of millions of Ukrainians crossing European borders to safety, students from Sunderland’s various medical societies joined forces within days, to gather as many items as possible that are most urgently needed, from medical supplies to toiletries.

In between classes, the students have been working tirelessly in partnership with local organisations across the city to collect items.

One example of the generosity being shown, was a large box of medical supplies given to students by The North East Immediate Care Volunteers after seeing their appeal post on social media.

The students have been working with Sunderland City business the Geek Retreat, following their appeal for donations.

And due to the large volume of donations, the items were taken to an NHS storage warehouse in Seaton Delaval this weekend before being transported by members of Newcastle-based Polish Parish Church, to Poland on Monday (14th March).

Alice Roberts, a lecturer in human anatomy, who got ball the rolling for the collection and reached out to the University community, explained: “When I heard the Geek Retreat were collecting and storing donations for Ukrainian refugees, I felt compelled to get involved.

“It has been a pleasure to coordinate the School of Medicine’s response; the reaction from the school, from both staff and students, has gone above and beyond my expectations.

“Despite the devastating reason for the collection, I’m proud to see the University working together with the people of Sunderland and the wider north-east region.

“I hope that the items we have collected will bring some comfort/relief to the people fleeing Ukraine.”

Seeing and hearing about the devastation taking place in Ukraine, second year medical student Angela Rollan, from Gateshead, wanted to help.

She said: “I felt, not only as a medical student but as a member of society, that it was important to help the people of Ukraine in any way that I could.

“So, when I was approached by Alice about this donation project I was more than happy to get involved.”

She added: “To support this effort, I, along with other medical students, have been promoting the project on social media, encouraging people to donate.

“I also set up a donation box in my accommodation to accompany the donation box placed on University Campus.

“Through these donation boxes we are hopeful that even a single tube of toothpaste will go a long way.

“We also have been planning a fundraising event relating to the Ukrainian crisis, which we hope may be able to provide further relief. ”

Prof Scott Wilkes, Head of the School of Medicine, says he’s been “overwhelmed” by the support shown by both staff and students across the department.

Adding: “As well as the harrowing images in the media, we have become acutely aware of the difficulties faced by fleeing medical students from Ukraine in the midst of this awful devastating humanitarian crisis.

“This is much needed aid and we will support the national effort in any way that we can to alleviate this unnecessary human suffering.

“We are poised to respond to help in any other way that we can to support our Ukrainian colleagues and students involved in medical education.”