A Finance Administrator from Newcastle College has been praised for her dedication to supporting the aid effort in Ukraine.

Caroline Smith responded to the Ukraine Appeal as soon as news of Russia’s invasion broke in March 2022, scouring social media and joining local support groups to find ways to support before teaming up with the local Polish Centre, which was organising a collection to be delivered to the Poland/Ukraine border.

It was then that Caroline decided to organise a response from its neighbour Newcastle College, where she has worked for the last 26 years. Together with Assistant Principal Lisa Hoseason, Caroline coordinated collections of food, medical, and other urgent supplies, whilst encouraging staff and students to volunteer their time at the Centre, sorting donations and deliveries.

Caroline said: “I remember watching the news that first day and seeing so many people fleeing their homes, and many taking shelter in underground stations. I saw a photograph of a dog clinging onto its owner in the underground, with a look of fear on its face, I had such a feeling of helplessness that I knew I just needed to do something. Straight away, my husband went through his wardrobe, and I started getting first aid kits together.

“It’s a team effort, really. Other departments such as the ISS / Estates team, have been phenomenal in supporting collections, and colleagues and learners across the College have been so generous with their time and donations. Honestly, I’ve been blown away by how much everyone has got involved.”

Caroline’s charitable efforts did not go unnoticed at the College, and she was soon offered the chance to make her hard work official and become Newcastle College’s ‘Good for Me, Good for FE’ Ambassador

‘Good for ME, Good for FE’ is a national campaign aimed at driving a sustainable programme of community action across the UK.  As an ambassador, Caroline is responsible for coordinating all volunteering and community projects across Newcastle College, including food bank collections and getting information out to colleagues about any campaigns that they can get involved with.

Lisa Hoseason said: “Caroline is resourceful, tenacious, determined and so caring. One person really can make a difference and Caroline is a star.”

Caroline’s most recent mission has been to gather PPE that would otherwise be discarded.

She explained: “In this country, PPE has an expiry date, so gowns, latex gloves, even large plastic bags, must be discarded after a certain amount of time, but they’re perfectly useable.

“I was told by a charity contact that they had claimed items for Ukraine from their local NHS Trusts, so I thought I’d do the same.”

So far, Caroline has gathered thousands of items from Durham and Darlington NHS Trust, Gateshead NHS Trust, and the Newcastle NHS trust.

Learners and colleagues at Newcastle College are still working to collect essential items to be distributed across Ukraine. If you would like to get involved, they are still very much in need of the following items, which can be deposited in any of the boxes in reception across the Newcastle College sites.

  • Paracetamol  
  • Ibuprofen  
  • First Aid items / kits  
  • Calpol  
  • Child Nurofen  
  • Cold / Flu Treatments  
  • Antiseptic gel, cream and wipes  
  • Multivitamins  
  • Torches with batteries, including head torches  
  • Power banks and cables for charging phones  
  • Protein bars  
  • Feminine sanitary products  
  • Tinned tuna  
  • Dried/tinned cat and dog food  
  • Flour  
  • Sugar

If you have any questions, or would like to donate other items, please contact caroline.smith@ncl-coll.ac.uk