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Mercy missions take aid across the world

Posted onPosted on 7th Apr
Mercy missions take aid across the world

ONE of Mansfield’s biggest success stories that has made a positive impact throughout the world lies hidden away on an industrial estate in the town.

The National (formerly Nottinghamshire) Police Aid Convoys is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year by doing what it does best — bringing aid to troubled people across the globe. And much of that aid is gathered, sorted, packed and co-ordinated from a warehouse on the Crown Farm industrial estate.

Ironically, when South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela died in December, NPAC was delivering educational and humanitarian aid to the shanty towns of Cape Town where Mandela lived for 27 years — basic items such as chairs, tables and ground sheets.

Now NPAC needs your help to continue its work and is appealing for, among other items, three buses.

They will be used to take disabled students from compounds and shanty towns in Lusaka, Zambia, to the only vocational training school in the city — and to take and collect student teachers from teaching practice in the compounds.

The charity’s work began in 1993, at the height of the Balkans conflict, when the NPAC was formed by Nottinghamshire police officers — headed by Inspector David Scott (now retired) who is still its chairman — to take humanitarian aid to refugee camps in Yugoslavia.

The police used their contacts and influence to negotiate transport problems and take 55 vehicles packed with items, along with 125 volunteers, on the first convoy.

At the end of the conflict the group decided to use its experience to continue to deliver humanitarian and development help to wherever a need was identified by the World Health Organisation — benefiting thousands of refugees, orphans and families.

More than 10,000 tonnes of donated goods have been supplied to needy people, from food and clothing to the first furniture to remote schools and clinics. The countries that have been helped include Albania, Bulgaria, Gambia, Ghana, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Zambia.

One of the more unusual aid projects was to Russia and then Zambia and Ghana, where the Cinderella appeal to provide wedding dresses for women to borrow on their big day prompted a massive response with hundreds of dresses being donated.

The salons and workshops where the dresses are prepared in the recipient countries also provide inspirational work for many people.

NPAC has donated old sewing machines and haberdashery items to try to teach them how to ‘make do and mend’.

Another project, in Zambia, successfully appealed for three Bs — balls, boots and books as sport and education were linked.

And the charity sent 31 ambulances by road to Pakistan, all serviced with the help of Smalleys, Mansfield.

Already this year aid has again been sent and by Easter up to 10 containers should have been taken to Africa and Pakistan.
NPAC has been so successful that it has expanded from its Mansfield base and now also has warehouses in Newark, Nottingham and Harrogate.

They store a variety of donated items, many medical and educational thanks to good contacts made in those industries. When a school or hospital replaces equipment, items like beds and desks are given to the charity and are passed on overseas.

Clothing, bikes, books and toys are donated through clothing banks and door-to-door collections, while the charity is backed by companies offering help with distribution, transport and rent.
Its heartbeat, though, is its team of volunteers working at the warehouses, including individuals, schools, youth offenders, business teams and Scouts and Guides.

Mr Scott said: “Our principles, mission and method of operating remain the same as in 1993 — to use our bit of influence for good.

“We are all volunteers who pay our own expenses.

“We always need more volunteers though to help us, whatever their strengths.

“And at the moment we have a special need for some more unusual items — a cement mixer, a twin-axle trailer, a wacker plate and three buses, two small and one large.”

If you would like to donate goods, including bikes, books, clothes, shoes, musical instruments, school and medical supplies, or would like to become a volunteer, contact NPAC at or call 0844 8701999 (local rate). The charity can also be followed on its Facebook page.

Pictured are volunteers celebrating filling a container full of aid for Rwanda.