Coventry residents urged to be part of 'Hand In Hand' project to welcome Ukrainians settling in the city - The Coventry Observer

14th Aug, 2022

Coventry residents urged to be part of 'Hand In Hand' project to welcome Ukrainians settling in the city

Tristan Harris 6th Apr, 2022 Updated: 6th Apr, 2022

A NEWLY-formed Coventry-based community organisation is appealing for residents to help support Ukrainian refugees moving to the area amidst the ongoing war.

Hand in Hand: Ukraine Response in Coventry is working to ensure the Government’s Homes for Ukraine concept is delivered on a regional level.

The not-for-profit group is matching Coventry and Warwickshire based residents to incoming Ukrainian refugees and providing both parties with a channel of support.

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

The knowledgeable co-ordinating team are using their experiences and contacts to help displaced Ukrainians locally and have already matched more than 20 Coventry and Warwickshire residents and submitted over 40 visa applications on behalf of prospective arrivals.

Michael Wang, Hand in Hand joint-founder and director, 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 get in touch.

“Any support you can give would be greatly appreciated.”

A fund-raising set up to help the charity maximise the local support network available to Ukrainian refugees upon their arrival has seen £1,300 secured so far, including a sizeable donation from local coffee house Ziferblat Coventry.

A significant portion of the funds received will be spent on enhancing the initial experiences of Coventry and Warwickshire-based Ukrainians by setting up a hotline for any day-to-day questions which may arise and to signpost to relevant resources.

Hand in Hand plans to further its commitment to the city’s fledgling Ukrainian population 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 as they take to the area.

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.”

He added it was important for them to know there is an organisation in place to support them from day one and make a real difference to their lives by providing them with the necessities they need to move forward.

“Coventry is well known as a proud city of peace and reconciliation, and we’re in talks with local volunteer groups and organisations to ensure our city meets this crisis on the continent with its usual kindness and good-will, to the benefit of all Ukrainians that are coming to join us.”

Visit handinhandwithrefugees.co.uk/homes to register an interest in being a host and to find out more and go to crowdfunder.co.uk/p/homes-for-ukraine-support to donate to Hand in Hand.

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