“Please help our country”.

That is the impassioned plea from a Ukrainian woman working at a Southampton charity preparing emergency aid for vulnerable families caught up in the crisis with Russia.

Ksenya Gilova made her appeal last night as world leaders launched vital last-ditch talks to prevent Europe plunging into one of the worst catastrophes since the Second World War.

Ksenya serves for the Hope Now charity in Malvern Road, which has spent over two decades supporting orphans and impoverished pensioners living in the troubled country.

The group’s leaders say Ukranians face hunger and severe poverty as the country’s infrastructure teeters on the edge of collapse.

They are appealing for funds for emergency food parcels to send to the needy.

Ksenya, 34, is visiting Southampton for three weeks from Cherkassy, 100 miles south of capital Kiev, where the group does most of its work.

She works for one of the charity’s branch groups Kompas Park, offering summer camps to disadvantaged children.

She said: “What’s happening is so scary and shocking. I am calling my mother and friends every day to find out they are okay.

“I ask people to pray for our country and to do all they can to help.

“Our people don’t want to get into any more conflict because there has already been bloodshed.

“The centre of Kiev used to be a beautiful but now it is all in ruins and is covered in blood from the shootings.

“We hope and pray a resolution can be found.”

Hope Now leaders warn people have been suffering since previously peaceful protests in Kiev’s Independence Square erupted into violence last month, with 77 people killed and over 600 injured.

The country’s currency plummeted by 25 per cent and will lead to spiralling food prices.

Ksenya fears the crisis will disrupt their work there because British volunteers will be scared to serve.

Charity chief executive Jon Budgell returned from the country on February 19 amid the crisis.

He said: “It wrings our hearts to see what’s happening there.

“It is going to hit the poorest people hardest and we want to help anyone, whether Ukrainian or Russian.

“The Ukrainians are very loving, hospitable and kind and will help anyone.

“If anyone has the heart to help these people we would appreciate it.”

A ban prevents them for taking food into the country.

But they are appealing for money to buy rice, tinned meat and other essentials to prepare food parcels there.

Call 023 8078 0720, email jon@hopenow.org.uk or see hopenow.org.uk.