MP Hinds: We still stand with Ukraine six months on from outbreak of war

By Damian Hinds   |   MP for East Hampshire   |
Friday 2nd September 2022 4:00 pm
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Ukrainian refugees living in the Alton area recently enjoyed a visit to Winchester Cathedral, organised by the Ukraine-Alton Mutual Aid group
Ukrainian refugees living in the Alton area recently enjoyed a visit to Winchester Cathedral, organised by the Ukraine-Alton Mutual Aid group (Rob Eckles )

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It is 31 years since Ukraine achieved independence from the Soviet Union.

But this year, Ukrainians were unable to celebrate their Independence Day with any significant events at home, with the threat from Russian attacks too high.

Exactly six months since Putin’s invasion, the people of Ukraine continue to inspire the world with their bravery and resolute determination to protect both their homeland and their sovereignty.

Boris Johnson made another visit to the country to mark the occasion, announcing another major package of support, including unmanned surveillance and missile systems.

The UK has committed more than £2.3bn of military and financial aid to Ukraine since the invasion began in February.

Britain has also helped drive the broader international momentum on funding, with the supply of lethal aid recognised as a key part of Ukraine’s defence capability.

As the prime minister said, what happens in Ukraine matters to us all.

According to the latest data, just under 92,000 applications to the Homes for Ukraine scheme have been made by sponsors in England, 419 by East Hampshire residents.

A total of 326 of those have arrived here, with 2,050 more across Hampshire, supported by the local authorities, local community groups and many volunteers.

Local charity the Rural Refugee Network (RRN) has been providing grants to help families with the cost of essential items such as clothing, work clothes and school uniforms.

They have also used their expertise to deliver a bespoke English language programme in Petersfield, helping around 50 Ukrainians improve their general language skills.

The RRN has also held a specific session to help people with writing CVs and understanding the Universal Credit and employment process.

A recent fun day at Petersfield Rugby Club saw many local Ukrainian families come together and enjoy a more relaxed opportunity to meet others living locally.

In Alton, the Ukraine-Alton Mutual Aid groups is also offering support with English lessons and transport sharing.

Refugees living in Alton have been learning more about the local area, with a group enjoying a tour of Winchester Cathedral with a local tour guide from the Alton Society.

People can find out more about the help available locally at www.easthants.gov.uk/support-ukraine – including how to become a sponsor using East Hampshire District Council’s re-matching scheme or the national Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Beyond being a sponsor, one of the best ways to help is support for trusted charities and aid organisations, including the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Funds continue to help the millions displaced by the war, including those in neighbouring countries, hoping to return to their homes.

As the war enters its seventh month, it is vital we ensure the hardship being endured by the Ukrainian people is known and understood across the world.

The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, but also a symbol of hope for the future.

As I look across local fields brightened by these, I think about the extraordinary people who are battling against Putin’s forces, protecting the freedoms we all appreciate in our own lives.

We stand with Ukraine.

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