Moving to a new home, in a new place is always difficult. Takes plenty of time and effort to get to know the area, people, and just to become familiar, enough to call the place home.
Imagine then, coming to a new area, in another country, with different language having had to flee a war zone and also leaving loved ones – family and friends – behind. And where you don’t know anyone but are being helped by the generosity of this new and previously distant community.
That’s what many families fleeing from the Russian onslaught and destruction of Ukraine are facing.
Many in the Marlborough area community are keen and willing to help, as are many in other communities across the UK. They are opening their homes to the families from Ukraine in a gesture of far more than just generosity, one of feeling for those who’s lives have suddenly hit an unforeseen and major turning point.
Richard and Cathryn Ramsden are one such family in Marlborough welcoming refugees, a mother and her two children who will be arriving very soon, but Richard, along with fellow Marlborough resident Erica Stuart is going one further.
They have created a website for Ukranian refugees. A very simple, clear, concise and comprehensive information portal where refugees can discover the basics (and more) about what they need in the UK and specifically in Marlborough, a site that they can refer to that will answer these basic questions.
Marlborough.news is keen to support Richard and Erica’s initiative and a link to their site is on the bar of buttons above, just below the menu.
Doctors, schools, dentists, transport, are just some of the local information listed, along with answers to lots of wider and more fundamental questions such as areas about visas, work, tax etc.
It’s never going to answer every question (yet, or at this early stage anyway) but it does help and offer a basic foothold into life in the UK and Marlborough in particular, a site that can be vital and welcoming to anyone becoming settled into our area.
Below is Cathryn’s story in her own words:
The war in Ukraine has shocked everyone – the images of devastated buildings and desperate people walking hundreds of miles to the border seem unimaginable in the peaceful Europe we have enjoyed for 80 years. Across the UK, British people have been signing up to the government’s scheme to allow them to open their homes to Ukrainians coming here for refuge.
To try and coordinate the local effort a little better, a Facebook page was set up by Richard Ramsden and Erica Stuart, two friends who had both signed up to host Ukrainians on the first day the scheme was open. Richard and I had made contact with two Ukrainian mothers who had left their home in Odessa with their children and were currently in Ireland. Richard and Cathryn could host one family, Erica and her husband Craig would host the other. However, it quickly became apparent that many people who could not necessarily host Ukrainians wanted to help, so Erica set up the FB page to be a focal point for offers to help.
The group now has 170 members. Some people have posted that they have the capacity to host, so Richard has added details of Ukrainians needing a home – acting as a mediator to help match hosts and guests. Erica has focused on the practical elements of welcoming people to Marlborough as well as supporting people through the complexities of visa applications. People have posted offers of help, both practical and financial, like funding English lessons when Ukrainian guests arrive.
For the moment, as we wait for visas to be approved so Ukrainians can finally come to the UK, the FB page is a place to build community. Once guests arrive, it will come into its own as a place for the people of Marlborough to coordinate their efforts.
If you would like to be part of Marlborough’s welcome to Ukrainians, please feel free to join the group. There is no obligation to open your home – there will be many ways in which you can help as Ukrainian guests arrive. Let’s ensure they feel welcomed, loved and glad to have found a home, temporary or long-term, in our lovely town.