Volunteers pull together to support Ukrainian refugees in Worksop

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A group of volunteers have been given funding to support their services in helping Ukrainian refugees in and near Worksop.

It has been little more than six months since the Homes for Ukraine scheme launched, and a group of volunteers making up Bassetlaw Support Group have been helping out every step of the way in Worksop and its surrounding areas.

Coun Gerald Bowers, Bassetlaw Council member for Ranskill, set up the group in February after he and his wife Alina Soloshenkova, from Ukraine, felt the need to help Ukrainians escape conflict from the Russian invasion.

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Together they appealed to local people to host families in Ukraine, and then matched them up depending on the number of rooms available.

Bassetlaw Support Group hosts social meet-ups for Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors.Bassetlaw Support Group hosts social meet-ups for Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors.
Bassetlaw Support Group hosts social meet-ups for Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors.
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With the help of seven volunteers working as teachers, interpreters, drivers and more, the support group has set up multiple projects to help Ukrainians fleeing from war, including finding employment, getting access to counselling, learning English and finding new friends.

The group has just received a grant of £3,700 from Nottinghamshire Council, which Coun Bowers said will go towards these services, along with providing interpreters when required, and even helping some Ukrainians set up their own businesses.

Latest government figures show that Bassetlaw has so far welcomed a total of 148 Ukrainian civilians.

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Olga Sotnik and her husband Andrii Sukhostavets, both aged 46, and their three children arrived in Worksop after driving 1,500 miles at the end of May, thanks to the help of Coun Bowers and his wife.

Despite staying in Ukraine for as long as possible, the war grew to be too dangerous for the family and they fled across the border to Poland. The family were then given Coun Bowers’s phone number who matched them up with a Worksop sponsor, Michael Carruthers.

Michael, a friend of Coun Bowers’s, decided to host a family, in the hope that if he were in the same situation, someone would do the same for him.

He is also taking care of all home-related costs for the family for 12 months.

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Since arriving in the town, the family has been given advice in every area, from getting nursery and school places and finding new jobs, to being shown where to shop and how to register with a GP. They were even given help in finding their son a new tennis club.

Olga said: “Michael helped us even from the first point of contact before we arrived. When we got here we knew where to go, what to do.

“When we arrived, our house was warm, there was a lot of food in the fridge, the children had sweets and chocolate – they were very happy. It was a nice surprise.

“Everyone in England wants to help. When we first arrived my level of stress was quite high, but now it is quite low. I have this feeling that everything will be alright.

“We want to thank Gerald and Alina, and Michael and his family who have been there every step getting us into this country. It’s nice to be here and feel all this support.”

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