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Catbrook Community Help for Ukrainian Refugees 

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Ukrainian Support Meeting

7pm Wednesday 30 March - UPDATE

Andy Pullan and John Griffin would like to thank everyone who attended the meeting last Wednesday, 30th March to discuss the area's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis and what support the local communities could offer to those who may be located here and to those who have offered accommodation.

It is apparent that there is a considerable wish to help as best as we can although details are still very much yet to be understood or clarified at this early stage. John and Andy hope they have captured most of the content of the meeting but if you feel there are points they have missed please let them know.
 

REPORT ON COMMUNITY MEETING ON THE UKRANIAN REFUGEE CRISIS HELD AT CATBROOK MEMORIAL HALL ON WEDNESDAY 30TH MARCH 2022

 
Thank you everyone who attended the meeting, a total of thirty-five people from both Catbrook and neighbouring villages attended.  Apologies and regrets for non-attendance were received from fifteen households and our database now holds contact details for fifty-six households and individuals keen to be involved with the initiative.
 
Andy Pullan and John Griffin laid out their thoughts on a scheme whereby this very close community might provide a local support mechanism for those able to offer accommodation to refugees.  The concept was enthusiastically supported and attendees expressed their commitment to providing support within a simple, management framework, which we will now develop.
 
There would appear to be 3 main ways people are able to register offers of accommodation, these are:

 
Of these options, the Welsh Government appears to be directing people towards the Reset charity who act as an intermediary between those offering accommodation and those seeking it. People can register on the Reset charity website as well as the other Government portals.

It is considered the “official” schemes will provide more safeguards for all involved as the necessary checks and support services can be done and put in place. There have been cases of people befriending complete strangers on social media to offer them places but this should not be encouraged as there is no way of knowing who might be on the other end of the online conversation.

It was pointed out that the response will be more of a marathon than a sprint as the conflict currently has no end in sight and it may be some time before some refugees are in a position to return to their communities as many homes and much supporting infrastructure has been badly damaged.  It seems though that we may have time to develop our proposal as the Welsh Government intends to set up reception centres where it will process refugees before they are moved on to offered private accommodation.  The idea of our community offering a facility to a Ukrainian village so that people who know each other will be accommodated close to each other has apparently not yet been considered by the Government, but if we made such an offer it might be considered helpful.
 
It was recognised that although we can start to plan now, it will only be when refugees arrive that we fully understand their issues and needs, so too much detailed planning at this stage may be pointless.  Equally, those offering accommodation will be key to deciding what support is required.
 
Various ideas were raised from attendees including:

  • The need for a cultural awareness briefing for helpers

  • Basic Ukrainian language training for helpers who would like to be able to greet refugees in their own language

  • Location of sources of Ukrainian foodstuffs to stock the Memorial Hall - There is possibly one in Bristol.

  • A Memorial Hall laptop secured but available to refugees.

  • A local memorial for Ukrainians lost in the war

  • Fundraising activities to meet the financial needs of refuges not covered by Government grants

  • Identifying local Ukrainian support groups to help us understand refuges problems and needs

  • The local network of young mothers may be very helpful in supporting refugees with young children and should be contacted

  • We should add a WhatsApp group to our community communications (Hall website and email list)

  • We should identify local groups with expertise in dealing with mental health issues (a likely problem due to the traumatic experience of war and dislocation)

  • Once our support system is functioning maybe households will “buddy-up” to provide mutual support

  • We should consider facilities available at village halls in the neighbouring villages (although some are already heavily utilised and booked – not so Catbrook)

Broadly, it was felt that we should contain the initiative to Catbrook and neighbouring communities, but not allow it to become so large that it becomes impersonal and a bureaucratic, management problem.  However, maintaining liaison with other similar initiatives in the area will be helpful for sharing ideas and lessons learned.
 
The next step is to set up a small team to coordinate the various functional areas.  This includes those with experience in functions likely to be the responsibility of the government but where a local watching brief and professional advice might be helpful.  Already we have some offers:

 

  1. Nicky Harvey has offered to pull together a list of the accommodation on offer (type, space, facilities etc). Nicky will be contacting everyone who has offered accommodation to clarify what facilities are available and preferences.

  2. Ronnie Hext offered to coordinate events for refugees planned at the Catbrook Memorial Hall.

  3. Andy and John will continue to help develop this initiative with representatives from the other villages

We are looking for coordinators/advisers for:

  1. Transport (coordinator)

  2. Health (adviser)

  3. Education (adviser)

 The next steps are:

  • Clarify what accommodation is available in the area

  • Prepare a briefing document to be sent to Reset and Welsh Government outlining what accommodation is available in the area and what support services have been arranged or available

  • Keep people up to date with any developments as required. 

  • Identify a “Transport” co-ordinator

 

 Kind regards and thank you

Andy Pullan, 01291 689474, Andrew.pullan@icloud.com
John Griffin, 01291 689404, j.griffin200@tiscali.co.uk

 

Catbrook Memorial Hall

The Russian attack on Ukraine has caused the displacement of many tens of thousands of Ukrainian people from their homes and marked the onset of what could be the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe for decades. 
 
We know many want to do what they can to help those who have been displaced in their hour of need. Recent events closer to home during the Covid lockdowns has shown that the Catbrook community has a strong sense of community spirit and a “can do” attitude to support others in need and who might need assistance. You may have already registered for the UK scheme to offer accommodation to Ukrainian refugees or may be considering what you can do to help.
 
We are looking to see what support there might be in Catbrook and the surrounding area to perhaps offer a more joined up approach so as to be able to offer accommodation for families and groups of people who might know each other, maybe people from the same Ukrainian village, and who might want to be able to support each other by staying in close contact. Rather than individual people offering to provide a room, as a village we might be able to offer several rooms thereby enabling a larger group of people to stay together and remain as a family.
 
We would also look to provide the village hall as a community centre for refugees staying in the village, this could be open all day for people to meet and support each other, there are cooking facilities and this would be an appropriate use for the hall considering its history as part of an Army Hospital.
 
With Catbrook being a rural area with limited transport links, perhaps others may be able to offer transport for people if they are able to do so. With all of the community involved it would spread the work and support would be available for those needing help and also just as importantly, those offering their help.
 
It is also important to recognise that this is not like hosting someone who is on holiday, people will be suffering from the trauma of war, they may have lost all of their possessions or even loved ones. This is not an easy thing to do and will take a considerable amount of effort, support and patience from all involved to help people through these difficult times.
 
It is also OK to say no, this is not for me, there are other ways people can help and offering accommodation for a prolonged period of time will be a serious commitment.
 
If you are interested or have any other suggestions, please could you let either John Griffin or Andy Pullan know what accommodation, assistance or support you might be able to provide so we can gauge if this is an idea that can be taken forward. I think that if there is sufficient interest the next steps would be to arrange a hall meeting fairly quickly to come up with a plan and then register on the UK website of what the Catbrook Community could offer.
 
Email Andy Pullan or telephone on 01291 689474 


Email John Griffin or telephone on 01291 689404 

 

Catbrook Memorial Hall

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