Lincolnshire shows solidarity on Ukrainian Independence Day

Tomorrow (Wednesday, August 24), the people of Ukraine will mark their national day, which falls six months after the country’s invasion by Russia.

Sunflower making for Ukraine on the NKDC stand at the recent Heckington Show.
Sunflower making for Ukraine on the NKDC stand at the recent Heckington Show.

The day also commemorates 31 years of independence from the former Soviet Union.

Since the spring, almost 850 Ukrainians have made Lincolnshire their temporary home under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This would not be possible without the incredible generosity and support shown by residents who have opened their doors to Ukrainians enabling them to start rebuilding their lives, offering a warm ‘Big Lincolnshire Welcome’.

Many events are planned throughout Lincolnshire and residents across the county will be showing their support for Ukrainians in their communities. On social media people across the country will also show their solidarity with Ukraine by sharing pictures or videos of sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine, using the hashtag #SunflowersForUkraine.

Host Simone Wood (top right) of Billingborough, with daughter Lois (bottom right) and their guest from Ukraine, Mariia.

In early July, Simone Woods, 35, a finance worker, from Billingborough, near Sleaford, opened her family home to Mariia, 39, from Odesa.

Simone said: “It was hard to watch the news and see ordinary people, with their children, living in fear and being forced to leave their homes. It was something that had happened to my grandma as a teenager. She’s now 91 and lives in Lincoln, but was born in Breslau in the east of Germany. When she was 13, her home was invaded by Poland in the Siege of Breslau (during Russian advance against Germany in WW2) and her family had to flee to the west for safety. It was there that they were taken in by a kind farmer and his family. As we had the capacity to help someone, I felt obliged to pay that kindness forward and take a guest in who needed somewhere safe to live.”

Speaking of her experience as a host, Simone said: “Initially a few family members were quite sceptical about welcoming a stranger into our home, especially my daughter. However, that all changed when they met Mariia. She seems to have just slotted into our lives. The first few weeks we spent a lot of time together, either walking the dog, going to our allotment, cooking and eating. The one thing Mariia said to me before she arrived was that she just needed to go somewhere she can sort her life out. Which she is starting to do.”

The Lincolnshire Resettlement Partnership, comprising of Lincolnshire councils and a range of public sector agencies and charitable sector organisations all working together, has recently appealed for more hosts to support the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Potential hosts need to be able to offer accommodation for a minimum of six months, and those who are successfully matched to Ukrainian guests are offered a £350 per month ‘thank you’ payment. Although local authorities are responsible for the wrap-around support package for Ukrainian guests, hosts should expect to provide a basic level of support including welcoming their guests to the local area. They will also need to help with tasks such as registering with a GP, accessing local and public services and opening a bank account. The Government’s Homes for Ukraine ‘Sponsor Guidance’ which can be found online, outlines important information and things to think about before signing up to the scheme.

If you think you could commit to hosting, please complete the Lincolnshire Homes for Ukraine Team’s expression of interest form at https://bit.ly/HfULincsEOIForm

Coun Richard Wright, Leader of North Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire representative on the East Midlands Migration Board said: “On Ukrainian Independence Day we want to show our continued support for Ukrainians both in Lincolnshire and around the world. We’d like to thank all of the residents who have opened their homes to those fleeing the war in Ukraine and also reiterate that we are still looking for more hosts in Lincolnshire. We urge anyone that can offer temporary accommodation to Ukrainians, to please get in touch with the Lincolnshire Homes for Ukraine team for more information.”

Residents looking to show their support who are unable to offer accommodation could consider donating to the Lincolnshire Community Foundation’s Ukraine Refugee Appeal. More than £13,000 has already been raised and funds will help to meet the specific, individual and more personal needs of the arriving Ukrainian guests where these are not provided for by statutory support or their hosts. Donations can be made at: https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/LincolnshireCF-Ukraine

The owners of Rauceby Hall are also holding an event on Wednesday to celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day.

Jonathan and Emma Hoare offered to host two Ukrainian refugee families in vacant rooms within their country house home in Rauceby and have set up a support network for hosts accommodating other refugees in Lincolnshire.

Jonathan explained that the event in the gardens of the hall starts at 2.30pm.

He said: “There will be craft workshops and all sorts of games and activities for all ages. The event culminates with a showcase of dance and singing that starts at 7pm.

“This event has been coordinated by Karen Marlor and a team of organisers and is open to all hosts and Ukrainians throughout our county.”

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