March 11, 2022

Little Toller and Bluemoose unite to aid Ukraine


An estimated two million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the conflict. (UP9, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It is easy to feel helpless in times like these. What can we realistically do to help in a small way, as an estimated two million people flee Ukraine? How do we respond to a refugee crisis whose only modern precedent is World War Two?

Obviously little can be done by you and me to change the political direction of this situation—but providing aid is a tangible way of solving immediate practical problems faced by Ukrainians leaving everything behind.

Brits have already have responded admirably, with many organisations and individuals compelled to raise huge sums, or to collect and transport vast quantities of supplies to the Polish / Romanian borders, where they are needed most.

And the publishing world has stepped up, too. As reported by the BBC, indie presses Little Toller and Bluemoose have led the way in recent days, raising over £30,000 to create the ‘Packed With Hope’ scheme.

The project aims to pack and provide 10,000 backpacks full of practical essentials including hats, scarves, toys, basic toiletries—and books. It is hoped that six lorries will be able to transport the bags to Poland by Easter.

The article also notes “Ms Cooper [Gracie Cooper of Little Toller] and Mr Duffy [Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose] are distributing a book, which has been written for children about war by Ukrainian authors Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv and published by Hewlett Packard.” They hope to give out 30,000 copies.

Gracie Cooper is also quoted, saying she “couldn’t just sit around and watch the news anymore”:

It’s a call to arms – we need hats, scarves, socks, toothbrushes, insulated water bottles, playing cards, foodie things… Our pack is a comfort bag for children… it’s a refuge for them with handwritten notes from children from across the UK. We know what we are doing is only the slightest of gestures but what if something in that bag puts a smile on a child’s face?

Find out more about Packed With Hope and donate here.

Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.