Ukrainian refugees are being welcomed with open arms within a five mile radius of Newent, as the church and community work together to set up a support hub.
So far, six families have successfully moved to Newent, with many more homes offered by local people.
The Revd Simon Mason, Rector of Newent and Gorsley with Clifford’s Mesne has worked to draw together a growing network of community groups, all deeply moved by the plight of Ukrainians. The aim is to create a welcoming and supportive space where newly arrived refugees can meet, find friends, be linked with local organisations and start to settle into the community. It also forms a support for hosts and prospective hosts.
The hub is made up of Ukrainian people and British people, working together, seeking to make the transition into British life as smooth as possible.
Simon said, “We want to have a broad range of the community available to help. If someone is interested in chess, we want to be able to link them with the local chess club. If someone is an architect, we’d like to be able to link them with a local firm of architects…”
Hub partners include local schools and churches, charities like the Rotary Club, Girlguiding, Scouting and the Royal British Legion, the Gloucester branch of the Ukrainian Church, local authorities and the St Mary’s Newent youth worker.
The Rotary Club has helped from the beginning of the crisis, coordinating donations of items to be sent to Ukrainian, and is now extending that support to assist with linking people with job opportunities and welcome packs.
Simon said, “All of the people arriving have had long harrowing journeys. The message we want to give is that we understand the overwhelming desire to return to their homes in Ukraine in due time, but for now they can find a “home from home”, and love and care amongst us.
“There are moments of shared tears, hands held across a language barrier and a slow and gentle process of offering friendship and care to people traumatised by war.
“Our church is involved in this because we want to show them that God loves them. When everything they have gone through has robbed them of power and control, we’re already seeing the beginnings of restoration and healing.”
For more information about the Ukrainian Hub, you can contact Simon here —>