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Ukrainian volunteers extend work to support refugees arriving in Wales

15 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Sunflowers Wales Ukrainian support network

A group of Ukrainian volunteers have been extending their fundraising efforts and support networks to welcome refugees from Ukraine as they arrive in Wales.

Sunflowers Wales is a group of Ukrainian friends who have been working since 2014 to organise regular shipments of humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Ukraine.

Thanks to regular fundraising events and by using an Amazon wishlist, they have in recent months organised shipments of vital supplies such as medical equipment, humanitarian aid and fireproof clothing donated from UK firefighters to volunteers in Chornomorsk, Lviv, Uzhhorod and Khmelnytskyi.

The chair of the group, Dr Dmitri Finkelshtein, an associate professor at Swansea University, says that since April this year, the group has been helping Ukrainian refugees, aiming to unite Ukrainians who arrived in Wales and help them to settle in the Welsh community while keeping the contact with their own culture and language.

Outlining the scope of the group’s efforts, Dmitri said they have established a messenger chat group which currently connects 120 refugees, and a Facebook page which has brought together nearly 800 members, including hosts.

As well as setting up fundraising and social events which involve Ukrainians and support Ukraine, they also collect and distribute donations – anything from nappies to bikes to TVs – and they also organise thematic Zoom-meetings illuminating various aspects of life in the UK.

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Community events

The team of volunteers act as a liaison between Ukrainians and Welsh organisations, organising and participating in community events.

In June and July, they held fundraising dinners at the Gwili Kitchen Café in Llandeilo, organised by deputy mayor Christoph Fischer with Bryan Jones, serving authentic Ukrainian food and raising over £1700 for the cause.

Early in August the group went to visit the now famous Rhossili sunflowers where they were hosted by Robert Morgan of Gower Fresh Christmas trees, and enjoyed the beautiful beach and spectacular cliff top walks on an obligingly sunny day.

The following week Glynhir Golf Club Ammanford turned out in Ukrainian colours for a charity golf day, organised by Tom Askew, Andy Lewis, Mark Williams and Gerard Murphy, raising over £5,000.

Businesses and individuals sponsored all 18 tees, each of which were named after Ukrainian cities, while players dressed in the familiar blue and yellow.

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Independence Day

Over the next few weeks the events continue, with a drop in for women and children from Ukraine who have sought sanctuary in south Wales at The Hide Community Centre in Brynmill Park in Swansea.

Organised as a collaboration between Swansea Feminist Network and the Sunflowers Wales group, the women-only event will take place between 12 and 2pm on the 20 August and will offer arts and crafts activities for the children as well as cakes and refreshments for attendees.

On 24 August the group will be hosting a Ukrainian Independence Day event in the Arts Wing of the Grand Theatre in Swansea.

The event, in partnership with the Grand Multicultural Hub, will offer attendees a taste of Ukrainian culture along with stalls, crafts and food tasting opportunities.

Afterwards at 5pm there will be a concert performed by Ukrainians: both, living here for a while and recently arrived, and also by Welsh people.

Talking about the event, Dmitri said: “Ukrainian children will dance, play music (guitar and piano), and also they will read poems and sing, both in Ukrainian and Welsh. Their mums will dance Ukrainian folk dances and sing Ukrainian and Welsh songs. Wales will be represented by a saxophonist and Mumbles A Cappella.”

For more information about Sunflowers Wales visit their website or their Facebook page and their Amazon wishlist can be found here.

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