From left, Anastasia and Aleksandr Zdrazhko with Tanya Bulax.

WATCH: 'Free shop' opens in Columb Barracks for Ukrainian refugees

A new 'free shop' for refugees from Ukraine has been opened in Columb Barracks.

The facility is stocked with donations from local people eager to help the refugees settle in after experiencing the trauma of having to leave their homeland following the invasion of Russia over two months ago.

The shop is being run by the refugees themselves with support from members of the Columb Barracks Regeneration and Restoration Committee and the Women's Community Projects Mullingar. Ukrainians, who are long term residents of Westmeath, as well as natives of other former Soviet republics, are also contributing.

One woman who is playing a key support role is Kyiv native Tanya Bulax, who has lived in Mullingar for 17 years. Full of praise for local people who have donated clothing and other items, she says that the shop is providing the people who are running it with a sense of purpose during their first uncertain weeks in Ireland.

The person in charge of the shop is Anastasia Zdrazhko, who managed a department store in her home city of Mykolaiv before the war started.

“It's run by the Ukrainian refugees themselves. They did all the jobs. They cleaned the place and they are sorting out the clothes and making orders up [for other refugees]," Tanya explained.

“”If people need something they send us a list, stating what size clothes and other things they need. At the moment we are extremely busy here. We need some extra rails and shelves and we need new clothes, women's underwear, sanitary supplies, not so many nappies, we don't have that many babies. We need some summer clothes and some summer shoes,” she said.

Many of the people who have relocated to Westmeath over the past two months have lost loved ones, while each one still has family still in Ukraine. She says that most of the new arrivals to Mullingar and Castlepollard are well educated and are eager to get working as soon as possible.

She added that all of the refugees that she has encountered want to return to Ukraine as soon as possible when the war comes to an end.

“Most of them are women with kids, their husbands and brothers are over there. They don't want to be here,” she said