Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership Appeals to Home Secretary for Aid Reallocation

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The Chair of the Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership (SHAP), Mike Bowden, has made an appeal to the newly appointed Home Secretary, urging for the reallocation of stored inflatable boats and outboard engines to Ukraine.

In his letter to the Secretary of State, Bowden outlined the tremendous efforts made by SHAP, a small local charity that has delivered over 2,000 tonnes of aid to Ukraine since the onset of the Russian invasion.

After congratulating the Secretary on her recent appointment and acknowledging the significant responsibilities that come with her role, Bowden highlighted the dedication and passion of organisations like SHAP, V-Aid, and other groups committed to supporting Ukraine and its people.

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For the past 15 months, SHAP has been requesting the Home Office to allow reputable charities and NGOs to transport hundreds of inflatable boats and outboard engines, stored in Dover, to Ukraine. These boats, originally intended for use by migrants, are now redundant and face the possibility of decay or disposal.

The proposal presents a win-win situation: it would incur no cost to British taxpayers and align with the UK’s support for Ukraine by repurposing these assets for humanitarian aid. Despite strong backing from figures like Lord Tony Berkeley and Mike Tapp, the newly elected MP for Dover and Deal, the previous administration rejected the proposal with various justifications.

Bowden acknowledged that some boats need to be retained as evidence and that some may be unfit for use. However, expert evidence suggests that most of the boats and nearly all the engines could be significantly beneficial to Ukrainian efforts. The Ukrainian Embassy has confirmed they would welcome such donations.

In his letter, Bowden urged the new Home Secretary to reconsider this issue and facilitate the transfer of these assets. He also copied in fellow Parliamentarians, including Lord Berkeley, Mike Tapp, Heidi Alexander (Swindon South), and Will Stone (Swindon North), hoping to garner broader support for this initiative.

Mike Bowden’s letter in full:

Dear Secretary of State,

I am proud to Chair The Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership (SHAP) -a small NGO that since the Russian invasion has delivered over 2,000 tonnes of aid to Ukraine.

Firstly, congratulations on the election result and your appointment as Home Secretary.

Secondly, I appreciate you have a huge workload and matters that require your immediate attention -but I hope you will recognise the passion and commitment organisations like SHAP and our collegues at V-Aid and other outstanding organisations put into their humanitarian efforts to support Ukraine and Ukrainians.

For the last 15 months or so we have been requesting the Home Office permit reputable charities and NGO’s to take the hundreds of inflatable boats and/or outboard engines that are stored and regularly arriving in Dover to Ukraine. We take no political position on the UK immigration policy; but simply assert that at no cost at all to the British taxpayer and in keeping with our support of Ukraine it would make good humanitarian use of such assets rather than leave them to rot or be sent to landfill .

We have had great support in our efforts to date from Lord Tony Berkeley and Mike Tapp, now the MP for Dover and Deal -but the previous Administration came up with various spurious justifications for refusal. I attach a BBC news report highlighting our campaign.

We accept that some boats will need to be retained as evidence. We accept that some boats may not be seaworthy.

However we have expert evidence that confirms most of the boats and virtually all the outboard engines would be of huge help to our friends and colleagues in Ukraine. We have confirmation from the Ukrainian Embassy that both boats and engines would be gratefully received.

I do hope you will ask officials to look again at this issue.

You will see I have copied in fellow Parliamentarians-Lord Berkeley, Mike Tapp (Dover and Deal) Heidi Alexander (Swindon South), and Will Stone (Swindon North)

Yours

Mike Bowden
Chair
Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership

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