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Stroud MP holds event for Ukrainian refugees

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Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie hosted a drop-in event for Ukrainians who have fled the war in their country and are living in the district.

It was the first time some refugees had met up together face-to-face and with Ms Baillie who helped successfully arrange many visas to come to the UK following the Russian invasion in February.

The MP welcomed local people who have sponsored the Ukrainians and gave them a home to the event last Friday at the Chantry Centre in Dursley.

She and her team have kept in close contact with local sponsors who are part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme (HFU).

“I was so pleased to meet up with our Ukrainian friends to say hello and ask how things are going. It was also important I met and thanked the local sponsors who have given them a home,” said Ms Baillie.

“I heard many positive comments about the experience of coming here to Stroud. Communities and local groups have helped people to settle into the local community. Many are now in employment too.

“The event also highlighted some areas where work is needed, especially around greater accessibility to language classes, bus passes, transport and driving licences.

“Representatives from the Gloucestershire County Council’s HFU team were on hand to help with these questions and concerns. GCC has committed to provide additional funding for sponsors already and they told me they are looking to support more language classes.

“I have been humbled by the generosity of Stroud district in helping so many Ukrainians start a new life after the horror of invasion. 

“My team and I will continue to support everyone involved so that this innovative government scheme has the best chance of success.”

Tom Jarman, a founder of Stroud Ukrainian Refugees Community Support network added: “The Government HFU scheme is a generous and innovative way to support refugees fleeing war in Ukraine. The goodwill offers of space in people’s homes and volunteer support has been hugely rewarding for communities, individuals, and the guests we can help.

“In Stroud, we were one of the first to respond through a local Community group now over 1000 strong – SURCS – which has been able to help hosts and guests make a success of this scheme. Siobhan has been at the forefront of political support on issues such as Visas, pet quarantines, qualification recognition, and her care for this group in need really comes through. We now enter a challenging phase, finding work, transport, integration/language, and the support from our MP is very welcome. I applaud Siobhan’s ongoing support of this initiative which is very much central to making this a success in Stroud.”

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