I was pleased to host a 'Welcome to West Oxfordshire' event for Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors at the Corn Exchange in Witney recently.
The aim of the event was to bring together, in one place, as many of the people as possible who can offer support and help and, above all, to say a big West Oxfordshire “welcome” to our new friends and neighbours who have been through so much.
The event brought together local organisations and charities including Citizens' Advice West Oxfordshire, Asylum Welcome, Volunteer Link-up and the Job Centre who were able to provide direct information about the support they are able to offer to newly-arrived Ukrainians and their hosts.
It was great to have a large turnout at the event and such a positive response from attendees who found the event of value. I was also pleased to be able to meet our Ukrainian families in person, many of whom my office and I have assisted with obtaining visas and accessing other local support over recent months. It is important that all those who have been forced to flee the war in their homeland are made to feel welcome in their new community here in West Oxfordshire, and I hope that this event has gone a small way towards achieving this.
We are all immensely grateful for the extraordinary generosity shown by those in our community who have come forward to host a refugee family. I welcomed the opportunity to thank our local hosts in person for their kindness and compassion.
It was pleasing to hear about how smoothly Ukrainians have settled in West Oxfordshire, with many already finding employment and getting involved in their new community. The event was also a useful forum for newly-arrived Ukrainians to connect with one another, building bonds and support networks.
I want to also say a huge thank you to all the local businesses whose generosity enabled us to hold a fantastic free raffle to give some families a little extra gift as a welcome, including Blenheim Palace, Crocodiles of the World, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Delice and the Shake Shop.
To coincide with the event, I have prepared an information booklet, both in English and Ukrainian, which contains the key contact details and information on how to access the wide range of local support available. The booklet is available to download through the link below. if you would like a hard copy, please contact me at email@example.com and I will arrange for one to be posted to you.
My office and I are continuing to work hard to ensure all newly-arrived Ukrainians are settling in well in West Oxfordshire and are receiving the relevant support. If you are hosting a family and need assistance, or are thinking of registering as a host, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do everything I can to help.