Bridgwater Stands with Ukraine: One Year On…
One year ago Russia invaded Ukraine and the most dangerous war in half a century exploded onto our TV screens. Meanwhile in Kiev, Kharkiv and Kherson the whole world was exploding around the people of the Ukraine. Towns and countries across the world raised Ukrainian flags alongside their own on public buildings and in back gardens and a major relief effort was organised. Bridgwater was amongst them. Town Council Leader Councillor Brian Smedley said “Bridgwater Town Council opened the doors of the town hall, made space and resources available as a collection and sorting point for donations. The good people of Bridgwater donated two lorryloads of relief aid while the Town Council paid for the transport both times. Similar efforts have taken place across the town and around the county. Nobody wants this war in Ukraine except a clique around Vladimir Putin and we all want it to stop. But not at any price., and not at the price of Ukrainian independence. Sometimes people have to stand up and fight for what’s right, and this is one of those occasions. Ukraine must not stand alone.”
People across the UK will 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. Somerset County Council is working with Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton and South Somerset District Councils, the Somerset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Avon and Somerset Police, and local charities and community groups to help both sponsors and refugees.
Town Council Leader Councillor Brian Smedley with Polish Aid for Ukraine organiser, Mario Gogolin from ‘You Are Not Alone’ collecting donations in Bridgwater Town Hall.
Support around Somerset
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.
Galyna Tryndyuk writes: Exactly 1 year ago, on February 24, 2022 at 4:00 a.m., we faced it… the war. It caught us all abruptly. Someone was sleeping soundly, someone was putting the baby to bed, someone was going to work, someone was returning home from a trip, someone was giving birth, and someone was confessing their love, but time stopped with the explosions. Children, grandmothers, suitcases, documents, everyone grabbed their most precious possession and ran… but there was nowhere to run, and none of us could understand: “Why? What have we done?.
After the first day, we pulled ourselves together and decided to help each other, now there is no ‘You’, ‘I’, ‘He’, ‘She’ – now there is ‘WE’, we have a common grief and a common goal! We gave everything to each other, we give shelter to each other, like a big family, but we did not know that our family would expand the borders, and we would have a world family that would open its doors hospitably and comfort, wipe away tears, clench teeth and will help Now we are not alone, we have beautiful relatives 2500 km from Ukraine – Great Britain! Now, together – we are an even greater force!
Galyna adds… We are grateful for your support through the Homes for Ukraine scheme and for your help to Ukrainians who chose to stay in Ukraine. They need to hear ‘You are not forgotten’, ‘We care for you and support you’.
If you wish to make a financial donation, please visit this opens in a new windowcrowd funding page.
Flowers and candles for Ukraine at Bridgwater’s King Square when the war broke out.
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.
To apply to the scheme, opens in a new windowvisit this website.
How to access support if you’re sponsoring a Ukrainian refugee, please opens in a new windowvisit this website.
The five Somerset councils remain committed to offering a safe and welcoming place for refugee resettlement. To find out more about resettlement in opens in a new windowSomerset County Council’s website.
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 opens in a new windowonline form which includes some guidance for prospective sponsors.