Clothing, Food and Household Goods
For Ukrainian refugees, here we give some tips on where you can source everyday items for a reasonable price or even for free. Our list is not extensive, and there will be many more options to choose from.
Shopping for essentials
Reasonably priced high street clothing and shoe stores include: Primark, Matalan, New Look, H&M, Marks and Spencer, Next, and TK Maxx.
The larger supermarkets also offer reasonably priced clothing and shoes: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s.
Aldi, Lidl, Coop, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, and Morrisons are reasonably priced supermarkets for groceries.
In many towns, you can also find discount shops where you can purchase household items, such as Poundland (where not everything is actually a pound!) and Wilko’s.
Charity shops such as Scope, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, Oxfam and British Red Cross offer second-hand items, often at good quality, at very reasonable prices. You can sometimes find new items as well, which are unwanted gifts or donated surplus stock from shops.
Car boot sales are a great option for picking up inexpensive second-hand items such as toys, books, clothes and household goods. They are normally held in big fields or car parks at the weekends, and you pay a small sum to attend. Sellers arrive with a ‘car boot’ of items to sell that they no longer need at home.
Apps such as Vinted allow people to sell items they no longer need, such as clothes, and you can probably find anything you need on eBay.
Gumtree and Facebook also have marketplaces where you can search for second-hand items being sold locally.
Please note that many local charities and community voluntary organisations may be collecting donations of clothing, food and toiletries to support refugees. Examples are the White Eagle Appeal in Balham, London, who have a Refugee Boutique; refugees may make an appointment and visit to select clothes and other items they need. They can be contacted on their Facebook page – White Eagle Appeal | Facebook. Another such group is Surrey Stands With Ukraine, who also have a donations hub based in Epsom.
If you are struggling to pay for food, you can search for your local foodbank via this link: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/. Remember that foodbanks consist of donations from the public and there are already many people in the UK that need to use foodbanks, so only take what you need.
Olio is an app which allows people to advertise things they no longer need, and give them away for free, including foodstuffs and toiletries. It is a great way for people to pass on things they no longer have a need for, and is used by many British people.
Freecycle and Freegle are platforms which allows you to ask for particular items that you need, and also see items that are being offered for free in your local neighbourhood. See https://www.freecycle.org/ and https://www.ilovefreegle.org/.
Facebook groups such as The Golden Hearted (https://www.facebook.com/groups/703270807162286/) allow those in real need to post requests for specific items. Here, you can find quite a few items for babies and children. Little Village also has local branches on Facebook where you can ask for items for children up to 5 years (https://www.facebook.com/littlevillagehq/).
You can search for other charities offering financial support via this link: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/ and also search online for Ukrainian charities in the UK such as the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain www.augb.co.uk.
You can also contact local church groups or refugee support groups to see if they can source donated items for you that you are struggling to find or afford. People are always looking to make space in their homes by clearing out things they no longer need. Your local council may know of organisations that can provide grants towards buying essential items.
Occasionally, you may need something that you need to use once and there’s no point buying such a thing. In this case, we suggest looking for a ‘Library of Things’ where you can borrow such items. See https://www.libraryofthings.co.uk/, where you can also find some locations of such libraries.
Furnishing a flat or house
When you are ready to move on from your host into rented accommodation, there are several places where you can source the bulky items you will need for free or a low cost. Here are some suggestions:
- Freegle (local neighbourhood platform for offering / finding items for free): https://www.ilovefreegle.org/.
- Freecycle (local neighbourhood platform for offering / finding items: https://www.freecycle.org/)
- Gumtree (local neighbourhood buying and selling platform: https://www.gumtree.com/)
- Nextdoor (local neighbourhood platform: https://nextdoor.co.uk/)
- Facebook Marketplace
- Charity shops
In particular, many charity shops have larger branches that sell secondhand furniture and electrical goods, which they may offer to deliver for a reasonable fee. Some examples:
- British Heart Foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk/shop/home-stores
- Cancer Research: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/ways-to-shop/superstores