Stand with Ukraine
After World War II, a considerable number of Ukrainians settled in Cumbria. The county is still home to a sizeable Ukrainian population. Cumbria has been taking action to help those affected by the ongoing conflict.
Vigils have been held in Carlisle, Kendal, Cleator Moor and the University site in Lancaster, where hundreds of people have attended to show their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
Across the county, buildings and monuments have been lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag in an expression of solidarity, but those in Ukraine also require material help.
Over one million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion began on 24th February. Show support and solidarity with refugees. Welcome people into our community and challenge false narratives. Remember that the majority of Russian people do not want this war either.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced relaxed immigration rules which will allow 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to join family members in the United Kingdom. New visa concessions have been introduced, providing security to Ukrainians in the country with work, study and visit visas.
Councillor Ann Tomson, leader of Barrow Borough council, stated that she was confident that a council meeting later this week would decide to support Ukrainian refugees coming to Barrow, continuing their record of welcoming those seeking sanctuary.
Councillor Jonathan Brook of South Lakeland District Council also voiced his support for the people of Ukraine, calling on the Government to act ‘decisively and compassionately’ to support refugees. He pledged that the South Lakeland District Council would do all they can to support refugees.
After receiving hundreds of messages from constituents concerned about Ukraine, Simon Fell, the MP for Barrow and Furness, has built a dedicated webpage to keep constituents up to date with the UK Government and NATO’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This website can be found at www.simonfell.org/ukrainecrisis
The Government has announced that it will create a humanitarian sponsorship scheme , enabling local people to support refugees and to sponsor those who do not have a family connection that would grant them expedited entry into the UK.
Charities and efforts beyond the county
- EE, O2, Three, BT and Vodafone have made calls between the UK and Ukraine free of charge. Anyone in Ukraine using EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will not be subject to additional fees for making calls, texts or accessing mobile data.
- The Disaster Emergency Committee are working with local partners to provide food, water, shelter and medical assistance to those in Ukraine. The UK Government will match donations of up to £20 million from the public.
- The UNHCR Refugee Agency has issued an emergency appeal to help secure the safety and shelter of Ukrainian refugees.
- The Red Cross have established a Ukraine Crisis Appeal to provide food, water, first aid, medicine, warm clothes and shelter.
- British-Ukrainian Aid – supports people suffering from the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by aligning UK and Ukrainian efforts.
- The Voices of Children foundation provides immediate aid to affected families. They also work with children to help them recover from the psychological traumas of war. https://voices.org.ua/en/
- The Embassy of Ukraine in the UK set up a fund to provide humanitarian assistance to victims. https://withukraine.org/
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are providing shelter and safety to Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homes. https://donate.unrefugees.org.uk/ukraine-emergency/~my-donation?_cv=1
- A hot food kitchen is being set up to feed people as they wait at the Moldovan border. Moldova lacks the economic resources of Poland or Romania, so is perhaps more likely to struggle to support people arriving there. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RefugeeSupportUkraine
- Medecins sans Frontieres are active on Ukraine’s borders to support those fleeing, as well as delivering medical supplies into the country. They are setting up emergency response activities in Ukraine, as well as sending teams to the nearby areas of Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to assist refugees. https://www.msf.org/
- Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust has a Wellbeing and texting service you can contact if you are feeling anxious about the situation. The service offers emotional support, a listening ear, and someone to talk to. Call 0800 915 4640 or Text ‘Hello’ to 07860 022846
UK individuals, charities, community groups and businesses can now record their interest in supporting Ukrainians fleeing the war through the government’s new Homes for Ukraine scheme. The first phase of this scheme will allow sponsors in the UK to nominate a named Ukrainian or Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home or in a separate property. Sponsors will be asked to provide homes or a spare room rent-free for a minimum of six months. Those who sponsor a Ukrainian individual or family will not see their household benefit entitlements affected as a result. If this is something you would be interested in, you can find out more here.
Petitions have been created to urge the Government to act with compassion towards those fleeing the conflict. Two major ones are:
- Provide safe passage – https://act.refugeecouncil.org.uk/campaign/create-safe-routes-refugees-and-save-lives
- Waive visa requirement for Ukrainian refugees – https://act.38degrees.org.uk/act/safe-passage-ukraine
You can send an email to your MP asking them to call on the Government to do everything they can to help Ukrainians forced to flee their country.
If you are unsure of what to write, a template can be found here https://act.refugee-action.org.uk/page/100375/action/1?locale=en-GB&fbclid=IwAR2a7sjf1dWF0DbCCfuoSEp4a3tOXubr7wePi8tjSfYfMa8dD4MNNvGbxSk if you are unsure of what to write. Sending an email using the template takes less than a minute.
Make sure you are getting your news from reliable sources. False information is common during conflicts. Recommended sources are Ukrainian English-language outlets The Kyiv Independent and The New Voice of Ukraine, or Ukraine-based journalists such as Olga Tokariuk, Christopher Miller, Nika Melkozerova and Illia Ponomarenko.
Make sure you know how to talk about the situation with children, many of whom will be feeling upset or frightened. Action for Children has produced a guide on how to approach this topic https://parents.actionforchildren.org.uk/mental-health-wellbeing/anxious-feelings/talk-to-child-news/?fbclid=IwAR3vUxhvPLNR9eRcObHqzT0i5SBmfUNshNiDjC0uRBfJV6wZvYCzPeiO-VQ
Please check opening hours and make sure that local shops have room to accept donations before travelling.
People fleeing Ukraine and arriving in the UK can claim benefits immediately
Emergency regulations have been laid so those arriving in the UK from Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion can access Universal Credit and other benefits where eligible, and jobs support immediately. Translation services are available to help new arrivals with phone applications, and Work Coaches and DWP staff are on hand to support people making claims online.
Without the emergency legislation people arriving from Ukraine would be subject to the Habitual Residence Test, meaning they would have to wait up to three months before being able to receive income-related benefits, including Universal Credit.
Learn more here.