Ukrainian families and their hosts in Somerset will join people across the UK to observe the anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine at 11am on Friday, 24 February.
The National moment of reflection will pay tribute to the bravery of Ukrainians and highlight the UK’s solidarity with the country.
In Somerset, many residents have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees since the invasion took place. Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, 745 people in Somerset have registered as hosts, and the county has welcomed 1,417 Ukrainian guests, with 253 guests from the Somerset scheme now moving on to live in their own homes in the UK.
Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset County Council, said:
“I’m hugely proud of the way this county has stepped up to support the people of Ukraine, as we have done with other resettlement schemes in the past.
“As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s abhorrent invasion, we must pause and remember all those who have been and continue to be victims of this war. But we should also reflect on the positive contribution of the Homes for Ukraine scheme to our communities. One year on and we now have many Ukrainian guests who arrived without speaking any English now receiving education, working, and contributing to the local economy.
“During such difficult times, it’s important that we stand shoulder to shoulder with one another and show that we are united against the invasion of Ukraine.
“I would also like to recognise and thank the people of Somerset for their extraordinary efforts in demonstrating exceptional kindness by welcoming our Ukrainian guests into our communities.”
On Friday 24 February, the Ukraine flag will be raised at public buildings across Somerset to mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Wells Cathedral will be hosting a vigil marking one year of the war in Ukraine, remembering the many lives changed and lost in the conflict. The vigil will take place at Wells Cathedral on Sunday 26 February at 3pm and admission to the service is free.
Additionally, there will be a display organised by Ukrainians outside St. Johns Church in the centre of Yeovil, and the Yeovil Welcome Hub will be offering a quiet and reflective space where pastoral care through the church chaplain will be available to anyone wanting to come and pray.
How you can help
The Homes for Ukraine scheme offers a route to the UK for people from Ukraine. Currently, people can sponsor guests from Ukraine to come to the UK and stay in their homes for at least 6 months.
One Somerset host, Julie G said:
“Being a host has been an incredibly positive experience for us as a family. As a family we have gained a huge insight into the Ukrainian culture and their belief, strength, and determination that Ukraine will be victorious.
“Our guests have shown such strength and determination from their first arrival to overcoming obstacles and challenges. They have embraced opportunities and formed friendships in the community of Somerset. We feel privileged to be able to support them.”
Nataly, a Ukrainian guest on the scheme said:
“I am so lucky to have wonderful hosts, they have created a safe and warm environment for myself and my son. I feel relaxed here and my son is safe, but nowhere feels quite like home. I feel lucky to have my own space and freedom, but the future in Ukraine is still so uncertain which breaks my heart.”
To apply to the scheme, visit https://www.somerset.gov.uk/ukraine/.
Another useful link can be visited here: How to access support if you’re sponsoring a Ukrainian refugee (somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk)
The five Somerset councils remain committed to offering a safe and welcoming place for refugee resettlement. To find out more about resettlement in Somerset, visit https://www.somerset.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/refugee-resettlement/.
Please also come forward if you or anyone in your local community would be willing to become a Homes for Ukraine sponsor. Please fill out this online form which includes some guidance for prospective sponsors: https://forms.office.com/e/CPfHfTESJD