A WARM welcome for Ukrainian refugees is being planned by a Stratford community group.
Welcome Here was set up in 2016 to welcome refugees from Syria who came to Stratford through the Government’s official resettlement programme.
Over 50 adults and children from 12 families are now living in the town through the Government scheme.
Welcome Here was also closely involved in welcoming refugees from Afghanistan who arrive at a local hotel last summer, and the group is now helping them settle in more permanent housing.
Welcome Here chair Roger Matthews said: “The needs of refugees from Ukraine are a new challenge to us.
“Refugees arriving through the Homes for Ukraine scheme will be housed and supported by local people rather than the council, but their underlying needs will be the same.”
Based on previous experience, Welcome Here is planning to offer a buddy to all local sponsors – those who are making space in their homes for refugees from Ukraine.
Roger added: “The idea is that sponsors will have someone to share the responsibilities of helping their refugees – and the refugees will be in contact with more local people to help them feel at home.”
Welcome Here will also be running a drop-in centre where refugees can meet with others in the town and sponsors can exchange ideas.
The drop-ins will also be places where specialist advice can be made readily available to refugees and sponsors.
“At the moment, we know that some local sponsors have applied for visas, but no refugees have yet come to Stratford under the Government’s scheme,” said Roger. “But we would love to hear from anyone who might be able to help, so that we can have things up and running as refugees arrive.”
People who are interested or want to help can contact Welcome Here through its Facebook page or by e-mailing Roger at email@example.com