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In Pictures: Ukrainian refugees out in force for ‘Clean Up Week’ in Laois

Ukraine Clean Up Week Laois (2)

Ukrainian refugees living in Laois came out in force to help during this week’s ‘Clean up Week’ last night.

They did so, they say, because they are so grateful to Laois Integration Network for opening up a ‘Zero Cost Shop’ in Portlaoise town.

Karen McHugh, Chairperson of Laois Integration Network said that she and all the LIN Committee were humbled when Ukrainian refugees who are coming into the shop for the past few weeks, asked if they could ‘give back to the community of Laois’.

This has resulted in Portlaoise Tidy Towns inviting Ukrainians to join them to help during ‘Laois Clean Up Week’.

The refugees joined Laois Integration Commmittee members and Portlaoise Tidy Town members and many are looking forward to continuing to support the Tidy Towns committee.

Gerry Browne, Chairperson of Portlaoise Tidy Towns said that they were delighted when contacted by Laois Integration Network about this offer.

“We are always looking for volunteers and this is a lovely gesture from the Ukrainian refugees. We look forward to welcoming them to our Tidy Towns community,” commented Mr Browne.

Ms. Ann Carroll, Administrative Officer, Laois County Council said that she was delighted that the Ukrainian community in the county wanted to join with local communities to assist in litter picking and to participate in Clean Up Laois Week.

This National Spring Clean Up Week, which has been operated by An Taisce since 1999 in partnership with the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government and local authorities throughout the country, returns to the county after a two year break, due to Covid 19 restrictions.

Clean Up Laois Week last took place in 2019 and that year the county saw 108 groups registered and in excess of 1,600 volunteers taking part.

Each year this partnership approach to tackling the ongoing litter problem receives so much support from local residents, community groups, businesses and schools and is a testament to the community spirit that this initiative fosters.

Ms Carroll added: “It is very heartening to hear that the families from Ukraine want to join this community partnership to tackle litter problems in towns and areas that have now become their homes.

“Supports, such as packs of bags, gloves and litter pickers will be made available to these groups.”

Karen McHugh, Chairperson of Laois Integration Network additionally said: “It is astounding to think of these people coming from a war-torn country and they genuinely do just want to give back to the community.

“Since the opening of our Zero Cost Shop at Bull Lane in Portlaoise, the committee have welcomed hundreds of Ukrainian refugees to the shop.

“The refugees are able to take whatever they need during their difficult time and so many are now volunteering in the shop too.

“We are so grateful to the donations given to date by the Laois Community, all of which has made such a difference already to the Ukrainian refugees.”

The zero-cost shop is located at the Old XtraVision shop on Bull Lane (right around the corner from Mulhall’s Supervalu) in Portlaoise town.

It is estimated that to date 300 Ukrainians have arrived in Laois, with some being housed by families.

But most are in temporary accommodation including hotels in Portlaoise, Abbeyleix, Durrow, Clonaslee, Mountmellick and other locations around the county

The zero-cost shop contains everything that will be needed including clothes, food, sanitary products, shoes and toys for children.

Ms McHugh concluded by saying that if anyone has good quality bike safety equipment for children and/or adults, including helmets if possible, please drop them into the Zero Cost Shop during opening hours: Monday and Wednesdays from 4-6.00pm and on Saturdays from 12-4.00pm.

Alternatively, donations can be dropped in by appointment. People can check out Laois Integration Network on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Donations can be made directly to Laois Integration Network Credit Union account.
Account Name: Laois Integration Network
IBAN: IE62POCO99211710968699

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.