Northern Ireland

Ukrainians In Northern Ireland community group sends ambulance to the front line packed with medical aid

A charity art show contributed to the purchase of an ambulance which tomorrow begins the 10-day journey to Ukraine

A group of people standing outside of Belfast City Hall in front of an ambulance holding a Ukrainian flag
Group members and patrons with ambulance at Belfast City hall

An ambulance will depart for the front line in Ukraine tomorrow, thanks to fundraising efforts of community group Ukrainians In Northern Ireland.

This is the eighth ambulance the group has sent home to Ukraine to help treat injured soldiers and civilians.

An Art for Life exhibition at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus raised more than £6,000 and featured work from Northern Ireland and Ukrainian artists. It corresponded with the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ambulance, which was purchased from a private transport company with funds from the art show, was parked in front of Belfast City Hall today and volunteers from the non-profit community group Ukrainians in Northern Ireland were on hand to answer questions from passersby.

Chairman of Ukrainians in Northern Ireland, Oleg Shenkaruk standing in front of an information board
Chairman of Ukrainians in Northern Ireland, Oleg Shenkaruk, voiced his gratitude for the donations for the ambulance

Oleg Shenkaruk is the group chair and said the ambulance had been packed with medical equipment.

“We have received a huge amount of support from Ulster University, the Executive Office, the people of Northern Ireland and many other organisations.

“We have managed to raise over £6,000. Now, we have bought this ambulance which is filled with different medical equipment. This ambulance will go tomorrow to Ukraine. So hopefully in about ten days, it will be in Ukraine and saving lives,” he added.

Kateryna Zaichyk is also a member of the community group.

Kateryna Zaichyk said it is very important to keep going to help Ukrainian people
Kateryna Zaichyk from charity group Ukrainians in Northern Ireland

She said it was important to continue supporting the Ukrainian people as the Russian offensive continues.

“Civilians are unfortunately dying every day. There is not enough medical equipment or aid. We are trying to help save lives, that is the main thing for our community group.

“We have already sent seven ambulances to Ukraine over the course of two years. We are Ukrainians who live in Northern Ireland, many of us have been living here since before the war started, and it is very painful to see what is happening,” she added.

Also present were Belfast couple Raymond and Florence Armstrong who had helped to buy the ambulance through the purchase of three paintings at the exhibition.

Mr Armstrong explained why they had been moved to help.

“One of the paintings I purchased was a traditional Cossack, it has quite a place in my home. I have a lot of paintings, I have not got a lot of room, I don’t have a particularly big house,” he said.

Raymond Armstrong
Raymond Armstrong and his wife Florence purchased three paintings contributing over £1,000

“But the opportunity had arose, and I bought these three paintings. It is just such a cause; I think most people in Ireland support the Ukrainian people. I am really pleased to come down here today.”

Also present was Black Mountain councillor Paul Doherty who voiced his support for the charity group.

“It’s great to talk with members here today about this great show of solidarity. We are seeing a great response from the people of Belfast, be it in Gaza, be it in the Turkey-Syria earthquakes and, of course, in Ukraine which is an ongoing war.

Black mountain councillor Paul Doherty
Black Mountain councillor Paul Doherty also spoke at the event to show his support for the Ukrainians in Northern Ireland charity

“There is such a show of solidarity from the people of west Belfast. Myself, and many others, have taken lorries to Ukraine. Likewise, people here have risked their lives in taking medical supplies into Ukraine,” the SDLP councillor added.