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Ukraine's gig economy workers are now delivering food for a homeless charity

Depaul International has enlisted the help of former takeaway cyclists to deliver food to help people in need in Ukraine.

Ukraine cyclist

Cyclists who used to deliver takeaways are now helping a homelessness charity reach people cut off in rural Ukraine. Image: Depaul International

A homelessness charity has enlisted former gig economy cyclists to deliver food to starving people in remote areas of Ukraine.

Depaul International has been supporting people made homeless or displaced by Russia’s invasion in the country. The charity has even brought in people it used to help before the conflict to support others who are sheltering in makeshift bomb shelters in Kharkiv and Odesa.

The latest innovation is targeting people around Kharkiv, according to Father Vitaliy Novak, chair of Depaul Ukraine. Novak is leading the charity’s humanitarian response in the country and has spent the last two months driving trucks packed with aid across Ukraine.

A team of six cyclists approached Depaul to deliver food to people who need it and now deliver food twice a week, getting meals into the hands of 100 people in a month.

“People can’t imagine not receiving aid from Depaul. It has been 72 days of not being able to leave their homes or bomb shelters,” said Novak.

“I’m proud that people say Depaul’s food is fresh and tasty. They also know we are coming regularly, as they need food every day.

Ukraine Depaul International
The innovative scheme is part of Depaul’s humanitarian response to get hot meals to people sheltering in makeshift city bomb shelters, homes and in the countryside. Image: Depaul International

“Our latest innovation is working with cyclists who used to deliver food for companies like Uber. They are now delivering food to the poorest of the poor, to elderly and disabled people who are often bedbound. The cyclists are proud that they are now delivering food to these people.”

Novak recently took a short spell away from Ukraine to visit the UK to attend the Brave Ukraine event, organised by the Ukrainian Embassy in London.

The aid worker, alongside Depaul International’s chief executive Matthew Carter, spoke to politicians from across the political spectrum about the situation on the ground in conflict-stricken areas like Kharkiv.

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“When I left Kharkiv people were still in big danger, as there’s shooting all the time, there’s still a humanitarian crisis.

“There’s so much need and suffering, especially outside of the cities, which have been neglected by the big agencies. We see the greatest need outside of the cities in the villages, and wider region, that’s where we are focusing.”

Depaul International’s Ukraine Emergency Appeal is fundraising to help the charity support people who are homeless or displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.

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