New south Warwickshire community group helping to support Ukrainian refugees coming to the area

The group matches residents and refugees and also provides support for both parties

A newly-founded Warwickshire-based community organisation is appealing for residents’ help in supporting Ukrainian refugees moving to the area.

Hand in Hand: Ukraine Response in Coventry is working to ensure the Government’s Homes for Ukraine concept is delivered on a regional level – with the non-for-profit group matching South Warwickshire residents to incoming Ukrainian refugees and providing both parties with a channel of support.

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Founders Michael Wang, Elena Ignateva and Alex Price have lived and worked in Eastern Europe, providing educational support to Moldova in particular, where more than 100,000 Ukrainians have fled to following the Russian invasion.

Elena Ignateva and Michael Wang - two of the Hand in Hand Ukraine response in Coventry founders. Photo supplied

They are hoping to use their experiences and contacts to act as a co-ordination team for displaced Ukrainians settling into the local area.

They have already matched more than 20 Coventry and Warwickshire based residents and submitted over 40 visa applications on behalf of prospective arrivals.

Michael Wang, joint-founder and director of Hand in Hand: Ukraine Response in Coventry, said: “Although the Government’s response is a start, we believe the process of getting Ukrainian refugees into UK homes needs to be much more detailed and applicable at a local level, which is the main reason why we created our project.

“We’ve seen a hugely positive response so far and are keen to meet with as many potential hosts who’ve kindly offered their properties to us as possible to ensure they’re aware of the stringent matching and safety processes in place for this initiative in Coventry and Warwickshire.

“If you’re keen to learn more about and assist us with our mission, please do get in touch. Any support you can give would be greatly appreciated.”

A fundraising page has been set up to help the charity maximise the local support network available to Ukrainian refugees upon their arrival, with more than £1,300 secured so far.

A significant portion of the funds received are to be spent on enhancing the initial experience of Coventry and Warwickshire based Ukrainians by setting up a hotline for any day-to-day questions that may be posed and signposting to relevant resources.

Hand in Hand plans to further its commitment to the Ukrainian population in the area by employing one of the new arrivals as full-time community co-ordinator, ensuring new arrivals have a Ukrainian/Russian speaking point of contact they can regularly consult with.

Michael said: “Through no fault of their own, innocent people from Kyiv to Kherson are having to lay down new roots in countries all across Europe.

“During this challenging time for them, we want to make the process as smooth as possible for any displaced Ukrainians coming to Coventry and Warwickshire.

"It’s important they know there is an organisation in place that can support them from day one and make a real difference to their lives by providing them with the necessities needed to move forward.

“We’re in talks with local volunteer groups and organisations to ensure Coventry and its surrounding areas meet this crisis on the continent with its usual kindness and good-will, to the benefit of all Ukrainians that are coming to join us.”

To register an interest as a host or to learn more about the Homes for Ukraine campaign, go to: https://www.handinhandwithrefugees.co.uk/homes