‘You will always be welcome in Wales’: First Minister’s message as Ukrainians celebrate independence day
Wales’ welcome to Ukrainians fleeing the war has been reiterated by both the Welsh and UK Governments as Ukraine celebrates its independence day today.
Meanwhile, the UK government has used the opportunity to call for more people to come forward to help house Ukrainians fleeing the war.
First Minister Mark Drakeford sent a message to those who have already made Wales their home saying “you will always be welcome in Wales”.
“Today is Ukrainian independence day. But it’s also six months to the day since Russia’s invasion of our country,” he said.
“And in that sense, this is both a proud day, but a poignant today as well, because millions of Ukrainians will mark Independence Day from outside the borders of their own country.
“Here in Wales, we’re proud to have welcomed people from Ukraine affected by that conflict to come and help reestablish their lives here amongst Welsh communities. And I know what a warm welcome has been extended to them wherever in Wales, that might be.
“I’ve had the privilege of meeting with some of those families. I spoke to a very small child who struggled to find the words to explain to me the difference between the life he had left and the life that he now faced here in Wales, and he simply pointed upwards and said to me, no rockets in the sky. How to imagine what a seven year old would have gone through to draw that conclusion.
“So in this very special year, wherever you may be from Wales, we wish all Ukrainians the best possible Independence Day.”
Secretary of State for Wales, Sir Robert Buckland said that Wales “along with the whole of the UK stands by Ukraine as the country marks its Independence Day”.
“It has been six months since Russia’s invasion and our solidarity with Ukraine and its people has never been stronger,” he said.
“I’d like to thank all those in Wales who have opened their doors and provided a safe place to live for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict. It’s a humbling and extraordinary effort which builds on a proud Welsh history of welcoming refugees.”
The UK government called for more people to come forward to help house Ukrainians fleeing the war.
More than 115,000 Ukrainians have been given safety in the UK so far through both the family and sponsorship schemes, the UK’s biggest offer to shelter for people fleeing war since 1946, they said..
Those interested in becoming sponsors for the Homes for Ukraine scheme can find out more information and record their interest online.
Those interested in finding somebody to host can contact recognised providers listed online who help provide support and guidance on becoming a sponsor, and can help people safely find a match. A record of interest will also be shared with the local authority who may make contact to discuss where there is a need for sponsors in the area.
Refugees Minister Lord Harrington said that today marked “two sombre and important chapters in Ukraine’s rich history”
“31 years since the proud nation declared independence and six months since Russian tanks rolled across the border.
“The United Kingdom has been unwavering in its support and we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder as more than 115,000 people arrive from Ukraine, our biggest offer of sanctuary to people fleeing war since 1946.
“Those who have chosen to sponsor Ukrainians represent the very best of British community spirit and generosity and I would urge anyone who has the room to come forward and join thousands of others in providing a safe haven for people forced to leave their country.
“The ONS recently surveyed sponsors about their experiences with the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the results show the vast majority of people want to provide support for longer than 6 months, which is a testament to the goodwill and generosity of the British people.
“They will of course continue to receive £350 ‘thank you’ payments up to 6 months and the Ukrainians they sponsor have the right to work and to access benefits and public services, including education and healthcare, from day one.”
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