A quilt, cakes and Cossacks, we say thank you to Ukraine hosts and their guestsPosted on: Thursday, May 25, 2023
With a backdrop of the Sunflower quilt created to celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day in 2022, Newark and Sherwood District Council hosted an evening of entertainment and food to say thank you to the hosts from around the district and to bring the families together one year on from the first guests arriving.
As guests arrived, they were treated to some music from the duo Ethan and Hossein, students from Newark College. A buffet was offered, and soon the buzz of conversation filled the Town Hall ballroom. It was clear that every table had its own stories to tell.
Two of the first guests to arrive were Joyce and Olena. Olena had arrived in Newark last September, having made contact through her brother and family. Olena explained that she had worked in a shoe factory back in Ukraine in a call centre. She was keen to work here too and found a role in a local supermarket in December. Joyce, from Fernwood, was pleased to host Olena and would recommend hosting to any residents thinking of doing this.
At another table, a mother and daughter spoke about their arrival in April of last year. It had been a big decision to come to this country, Anastasia, the daughter was a student and needed to be able to pick up her studies wherever they settled. The air raids in their home country had been hard to bear for Anastasia affecting her mental health and distracting from her studies.
Having engaged with the UK scheme, the pair did have concerns, but, having found a sponsor and now being settled they are happy.
Thanks to their hosts, the pair are now looking to the future, Anastasia is studying Maths, Biology and Chemistry at ‘A’ level and is looking to university. At the same time her mum, Tamila, is learning English.
By meeting these families, it is clear the massive impact this scheme has had on their lives. Seeing the children running around, playing or piling their plates with cakes and generally having fun, or talking with parents who have made the difficult decision to uproot their families and travel across Europe to come here.
The highlight of the evening was the team of Cossack dancers, who thrilled the room with their bright costumes and incredible display. After some gentle encouragement, members of the audience were persuaded to take to the stage and join in. Clearly some were more experienced than others with the moves!
‘With many residents volunteering to host families, being a part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme was essential for the Council, and our community development team worked quickly to ensure guests and hosts had everything they needed to ensure a smooth arrival and ongoing support, it has quickly become a true privilege. Seeing the happy faces around the room, the children running around and feeling comfortable to join in, it is clear that the scheme has made a real and lasting difference to these people’s lives.’ Commented Suzanne Shead, Director of Housing Health and Wellbeing at Newark and Sherwood District Council, ‘I’ll remember the delight on the face of the toddler being chased by her mum round the hall, as she explored her new surroundings, safe, happy and clearly enjoying herself. Thank you to all our hosts, they should feel very proud of their contribution to supporting people in very difficult circumstances to feel welcome and safe in our district.’
The evening was arranged, organised and hosted by the Newark and Sherwood District Council Community Development team as part of their on-going support for families hosting Ukrainian families in our district.
The Sunflowers for Ukraine quilt was made in August 2022 using sunflowers made across the district to mark Ukrainian Independence Day. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and a symbol of peace and unity. These workshops were intended to let both adults and children show their support for the country in a creative way and to make the Ukrainian refugees in our district feel welcome and acknowledged.
The finished quilt will go on display at Newark College in the future.