Retailers have rallied across Northern Ireland to help collect supplies for refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Shop-owners have stepped forward to volunteer their premises as drop-off points for collections of vital items which will be needed by Ukrainians arriving in the EU.

Items being collected by the Polish community in Belfast include clothing, blankets, baby food, personal hygiene products and medical supplies which will be sent to refugees in Poland.

They can be left at four locations including Smokey Deli on Grand Parade, Paraiso Tan on Woodstock Road, both in east Belfast, and two warehouses.

“We are aiming to send a lorry to transport all donated items to Poland in the coming week,” said Monika Rawson, owner of Smokey Deli, who has organised the collection.

The businesswoman said she was completely overwhelmed with the response after her Facebook post was shared more than 100 times in a couple hours.

“In just one day we have loads of bags and food,” she said.

“It’s a lovely response from local people and I have cried all day with the public.

“Everybody who dropped donations, we chatted and everybody is heartbroken what is happening.”

The supplies will be driven to Poland this week and Ms Rawson hopes she can continue to collect public donations and have them regularly driven over for as long as the conflict lasts.

Gusberts coffee shop and deli on Belfast’s Belmont Road is helping Ms Rawson’s collection by acting as a drop-off for anything animal-related for the pets that will be arriving in Poland with their Ukrainian owners, including canned and dry dog and cat food, blankets, beds, collars, leads and treats.

Meanwhile, 25% of all sales from home deliveries by fruit and veg business Microgreenway will go towards aid for Ukraine as co-owner Iuliia supports friend and family caught up in the conflict.

Visit their Facebook page for details of drop-off points for donations.

Meanwhile, CFC Interiors in Campsie, Derry, are also supporting an emergency collection of the items needed for the war refugees.

Their post on Facebook states: “All items will be sent to refugee centres on the eastern border of Poland, where many Ukrainians, often with small children, are fleeing.

“We will be leaving collection boxes at the front door of our Cookstown and Campsie stores this week (by Wednesday), if you are in a position to donate any of the items, any help would be greatly appreciated. Collected items will be transferred to Poland as soon as possible. We greatly appreciate your support.”

Meanwhile, Alana Interiors in Lurgan is also acting as a drop-off point for toiletries.

Owner Carol Little said: “We are closely involved with local charities who are currently working on the ground in Ukraine and the borders of Ukraine and can quickly help on the ground.”

In Co Down, the Joy Foundation is collecting supplies which will be brought by van to the Baptist Union in Poland. The group is asking for children’s and women’s underwear, T shirts, shoes, pillows, blankets, soaps, shower gels, toothpaste and toothbrushes as well as two or three washing machines. The items can be dropped at Barrel & Bean, Dromore, Bridge Books or Graham’s Newsagents.

Kinga Orkisz, one of a group of Polish people who are organising a collection point in a Belfast warehouse said people had been very generous with their donations and they were planning to send a lorry to Poland every week.

“My initial idea was to send a few packets to Ukraine. I did not expect so many people to be so helpful,” she said.

The group is running three collection centres in Belfast and one in Mallusk, County Antrim.

“Ukrainian people have travelled to Poland with one suitcase, or sometimes with nothing,” she said.

“We have collected two tonnes of clothes.

“We need more medication, cleaning supplies and food, and nappies for babies.”