This week on Thursday 24 August, the people of Ukraine will mark their national day, which falls 18 months after the country’s invasion by Russia. The day also commemorates 32 years of independence from the former Soviet Union.
Since March 2022, more than 1,350 Ukrainians have made Lincolnshire their temporary home under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and 190 of those in North Kesteven. This wouldn’t be possible without the incredible generosity and support shown by residents who have opened their doors to Ukrainians enabling them to start rebuilding their lives.
People throughout Lincolnshire and across the UK will be showing their support for Ukrainians in their communities. In Lincoln, the Ukrainian Cultural Centre (UCCL) will commemorate the day with a dedicated ceremony at the International Bomber Command Centre, planting a Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus), the national shrub of Ukraine.
The rose has a very deep and significant meaning to many Ukrainians and features prominently in the country’s music, literature and art. Its red berries adorn the bright vyshyvanka (the name for embroidered blouses/shirts in Ukrainian national costumes) as well as the modern-day insignia of Ukraine’s armed forces.
Speaking ahead of the event Valeriia Krochak, founder of UCCL, said: "We have chosen Ukrainian children to plant the ‘Chervona Kalyna’, a red viburnum, as we believe children are the future of Ukraine. During the ceremony we will also honour the memory of all those who have died in this war with a minute's silence."
On social media people across the country will also show their solidarity with Ukraine by sharing pictures or videos of sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine and a symbol of Ukrainian identity and hope for the future, using the hashtag #SunflowersForUkraine.
The Lincolnshire Resettlement Partnership, comprising of Lincolnshire councils and a range of public sector agencies and charitable sector organisations all working together, continues to appeal for more hosts to support the Homes for Ukraine scheme who may be a suitable match for Ukrainians already settled in the county. They are particularly interested in hearing from people who live within Lincolnshire’s bigger villages and towns, where there is good access to public transport and other amenities.
Hannah Clark, 42, from Faldingworth near Market Rasen and her family have hosted Tamara, 72, from Donetsk in the Donbas region of Ukraine since January.
Speaking of her experience as a host, Hannah said: “I had read about the Homes for Ukraine scheme when it first started but we were in the process of moving house. As soon as we had moved and settled, we realised we were in a position to offer a room and didn’t hesitate.
“I contacted the Homes for Ukraine team at Lincolnshire County Council and they said they had a potential match. As soon as I heard Tamara’s story, we agreed to have her as soon as possible. Since she moved in, we have settled very quickly into a routine and have all got used to being around each other and sharing the house. We are still getting to know her and her way of life which is very different to ours but we have learned that it was 100% worth opening our home.”
Cllr Richard Wright, Leader of North Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire representative on the East Midlands Migration Board said: “On Ukrainian Independence Day, we continue to show our steadfast support for Ukraine. Thank you to everyone in our communities who has offered Ukrainians such a warm welcome during this incredibly difficult time. Special thanks go to our hosts up and down the county who have opened their doors to displaced Ukrainians, helping them to start rebuilding their lives.
“As the war continues, we are still looking for new hosts who are able to offer temporary accommodation to Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homes. I urge anyone who thinks they could help to contact Lincolnshire County Council’s Homes for Ukraine team for more information.”
Anyone can consider hosting as long as they can offer accommodation for at least six months, and those who are successfully matched to Ukrainian guests are offered a £350 per month ‘thank you’ payment, rising to £500 a month for guests who have been in the country for over a year.
If you think you could commit to hosting, please register your interest at the Connect to Support website.