News | Bertelsmann Printing Group | Pößneck, 03/10/2022

45 Refugees From Ukraine Have Arrived In Pößneck – Thanks To GGP Media

The management and employees of GGP Media teamed up with local authorities for a relief operation to bring mainly women and children from Ukraine to safety. A chartered coach returned on Tuesday with 45 refugees.

When the white coach arrived at GGP Media on Tuesday evening after a journey of nearly 14 hours, the residents of Pößneck, Thuringia, were already awaiting its 45 occupants: 18 children and young people, 26 women and a 74-year-old man had made it to safety, escaping the war launched in Ukraine by Russia. In Pößneck, they were accommodated in various facilities and provided with all the necessities. The people owe their successful evacuation from the war zone to a relief effort by GGP Media, a Bertelsmann Printing Group subsidiary. Its management and employees had teamed up with local authorities and initiatives to do all they could to help the people who have been experiencing terrible suffering about a thousand kilometers away. 

“We are very relieved that our operation was successful and that we were actually able to take in refugees from Ukraine in Pößneck,” says Sven Isecke, Managing Director of GGP Media. He adds logistics were a great challenge and the journey to the Polish-Ukrainian border area was accompanied by many imponderables. “Organizing two drivers and a coach alone wasn’t easy at this time,” reports Isecke. Similarly, finding an interpreter to address people at the destination and invite them to travel to Pößneck. “There, too, with a bit of luck, we found someone who set off on Monday morning with two colleagues from GGP,” says the GGP Media MD. Their destination was a place near the border on the Polish side, where many people from Ukraine gather after fleeing their embattled homeland. Plenty of provisions, blankets and hygiene products went with them – all donated by GGP Media employees and local retailers.

Donation box filled with €500 in cash

“Our colleagues’ willingness to help was and continues to be really huge,” says Sven Isecke, impressed by his employees’ response. “After hearing about similar private initiatives in the media, we said to ourselves: We can do that, too! We made an executive decision, contacted the city, and finally announced our plan to the company last Friday. By Monday morning, 9 a.m., we had received many in-kind donations brought by our employees.” And that wasn’t all: the colleagues also filled a collection box with more than €500 in cash donations, to be made available to the refugees on their return journey for the numerous breaks at rest stops. At 10 p.m. on Monday evening, the bus arrived at a parking lot in an industrial park in Przemysl. This is one of many assembly points near the border, each housing several thousand refugees. While the two drivers rested, Stefan Wagner, Head of Purchasing and Logistics at GGP Media, and Alexander Straka, Shift Manager Printing at GGP Media, together with interpreter Natalia Blümel, approached the refugees and offered them help. They were well looked after and cared for by local institutions and initiatives, but often did not know where to turn next. In the end, Isecke said, a number of women with their children and one man were invited onto the coach so that it could set off on its return journey at 6:30 AM early on Tuesday morning.

Offer of employment for the women

In Pößneck, most of the Ukrainians are now staying at a Volkssolidarität apprentice hostel; some private individuals have also offered to take in refugees. The company canteen is available to them for meals. “We are now in close exchange with the mayor, the district office, Volkssolidarität, and the local housing cooperative to organize apartments with the support of the local population, into which the people will then gradually move,” says Isecke, explaining the further plans. The Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers’ Welfare Association) has offered its assistance with bureaucratic hurdles, and local media have called for furniture and other in-kind donations. “We had a very positive experience with Ukrainian students actively supporting us as seasonal workers last fall. Now we are happy that we can return the favor and at least provide some help,” says Isecke.

“I am very grateful to the company for organizing this transport to help the people,” explains Michael Modde, Mayor of Pößneck. “They will be well accommodated in Pößneck. The willingness of the people of Pößneck to donate is overwhelming; my heartfelt thanks for that as well.” But this is probably just the beginning, he said, with many more people to come. “We have to stand together now and help the people because they really need it.”