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Local support for Ukrainians continues as war enters its third year                     

9:54 am, Friday, 23rd February 2024 - 2 months ago


Saturday February 24 marks the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Many predicted Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv would fall within three days but now the war is entering its third year.

People across North East Lincolnshire have taken the people of Ukraine to their hearts and, under the Local Authority Homes for Ukraine scheme, 112 people have arrived in the borough. Fifty four of those are now living in homes sponsored by local people.

Grimsby Minster will be lit up in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, to commemorate the anniversary on Saturday.

Inna Rengach moved to North East Lincolnshire in May 2022 with her now six-year-old daughter, Masha. Her family, including her husband, parents and brother, remain in Ukraine.

Initially, hosted by a local family, Inna and Masha now have a home of their own, and Masha is now a Year 2 pupil at a Grimsby school. Masha has a circle of friends and great support from the school, says Inna. She attends drama classes, art studio and is learning to swim, and she dreams of playing the guitar one day.

In September 2022, Inna began her role at North East Lincolnshire Council as a refugee integration support officer, liaising with families that have moved to the area from Ukraine. She continues that work today.

In July 2023, she became a member of the Ukrainian Advisory Panel supported by Migration Yorkshire, and is continuing her studies at Franklin College in Health and Social Care. 

“My job is to help people and support them,” said Inna. “I don’t want them to feel alone, I want them to feel they have support. I help people to start their new life and improve their language. I am really lucky to work with such a helpful team here at the Council.”

Inna’s family remain in the Ukraine and she speaks to them every day by video call. Saturday will be a difficult day for them all.

She said: “When I started this interview, an air raid alert began in the southern part of Ukraine. I’m from Odessa and my city is the heart of the south of Ukraine.

“During these two years, our family has a certain algorithm for communicating with each other. In one of the messengers there is a “roll call” where we inform each other that everything is fine and safe with each family member.

 “The lives of the Ukrainian people are divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’ the invasion. I wish I could spend this day with my family and be able to hug all of them.

“Instead we will have a video call with our family and do something Ukrainian with my daughter – we will cook traditional Ukrainian food, we will listen to Ukrainian music or read Ukrainian bedtime stories. We also plan to meet at a creative meeting with some members of the Ukrainian community to be together on this day.

“When global changes occur in life that you cannot influence, it makes you think, and reconsider your attitude towards life,” she said. 

“Every day I wake up with gratitude in my heart to the Lord and the British people for the fact that I and my daughter have the opportunity to live in safety and enjoy every day, for support and new opportunities.

“I believe in the victory of Ukraine because I know how strong and indestructible the spirit of the Ukrainian people is, as well as the support of Ukraine from many allied countries. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”

North East Lincolnshire Council continues to offer as much support to the Ukrainian refugees as possible and has arranged for them to attend  a performance of Carmen by the Ukrainian National Opera, at Grimsby Auditorium on Tuesday March 5 2024.

Cllr Philip Jackson, Leader of the Council, said: “As a community we have opened our hearts and homes to the people of the Ukraine and we continue to offer support for as long as they need it.

“We send our heartfelt thanks to those sponsors, past and present, who have opened their homes to Ukrainian people since the scheme started in 2022. Not only have they allowed people into their spaces, but they have also been great support networks, helping people to grow and settle in the UK. I know many have formed great friendships on the back of this and still see each other today.”

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