A new initiative has been set up by Henley resident Gemma Birch to help support new arrivals from Ukraine, and the local families who are offering their homes.
The initiative, called Mother Sister Daughter, has been set up following the recent launch of the government Homes for Ukraine initiative, which allows UK families to become hosts for new arrivals fleeing their homes in Ukraine. Many local residents, churches, charities and businesses are asking what we can do now to respond to the unfolding refugee crisis in Ukraine here in Henley.
www.mothersisterdaughter.org.uk is facilitating and supporting the welcome and transition of Ukrainian guests into Henley and surrounding areas, through a localised support network for both Hosts and Guests. If you are local to Henley and want to be a part of our support network, please register on the website as a volunteer.
Since its launch on 17 March, the website has already received expressions of interest from a significant number of local residents and businesses in Henley and the surrounding area. Gemma said, “I’m delighted to see that this amazing community that we live in has once again come together to spread kindness when and where it is most needed”.
All interested in supporting Ukrainian refugees are welcome to attend an information evening on Wednesday 30 March at 17:30 at D:two, Market Place where Mother Sister Daughter will host guest speakers, share the work so far and the group’s plans for the future.
“We will be explaining the process, and enlightening people on the steps from registering to be a host to receiving them into their homes,” added Gemma.
Other guest speakers will include Henley Town Councillor Dave Eggleton, who has been transporting supplies to the border with Ukraine, Henley Music School’s Laura Reineke who organised the recent Play for Peace concert in Henley town square, Dr Krish Kandiah who is the founder of Sanctuary Foundation, and Sarah Lane from Nomad. Maggie and Ed Atkinson, Liz Ledaca and Sara Kandiah are Henley residents who are helping to organise the free event.
Those interested in attending are warmly invited to sign up at: https://welcome2henley.eventbrite.co.uk/
“We are especially keen to connect with people wishing to, already registered to, or considering, hosting Ukrainian refugees in and around the Henley community,” said Gemma.
Sarah Lane said, “Nomad is pleased to be involved with Mother Sister Daughter and are looking forward to supporting where possible.”
Laura Reineke, who was one of the first people to sign up to host a displaced family, has agreed to welcome a Ukrainian family into her home. “After Play for Peace in Trafalgar Square, I was contacted through a fellow musician, by a mother and her daughter who had fled Kyiv and were sheltering in Bled, Slovenia,” said Laura. “I couldn’t just sit back and hear the horrific stories coming out of the Ukraine, I have two spare rooms, and after a conversation with my family we decided we’d love to help.”
Krish Kandiah of the Sanctuary Foundation added, “I am so pleased that we are welcoming Ukrainians to our town and surrounding villages and I hope that between all of us we can make their transition as smooth as possible.”