24th March 2022
Cumbrians are being invited to donate to a support fund for refugees arriving in the county after fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Money donated to the Welcome Fund will be available to community groups supporting refugees and refugees coming to Cumbria from Ukraine to ensure they get the support they need to adapt to their new life in Cumbria.
As the county prepares for its first arrivals from Ukraine, many locals are keen to support them but may be unsure how.
One way to make an effective difference is to contribute to the Welcome Fund, says Cumbria Community Foundation, which distributes grants in support of people in need.
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: “We want to make people aware that the Welcome Fund exists as an established means of supporting refugees in the county.
“We know that as Ukrainians settle in Cumbria, they are going to need a lot of support and the communities and groups offering them homes will need to access funds to help them.
“We are getting donors and supporters asking what they can do to help people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, and we are receiving information about the emerging need to ensure we are can adequately support them here in Cumbria.”
The Welcome Fund supports all refugees in Cumbria, not just those coming from Ukraine. It is open to donations from the public and proceeds from fundraising events, as well as from the Foundation’s regular donors.
More than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24. Many have escaped artillery bombardment with just a few belongings, and most are women and children, and men and women over the age of 60.
More than 150,000 people in the UK have offered accommodation to Ukrainian refugees under the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. But once they are settled in a room, they will need more help.
The Welcome Fund ensures that support is co-ordinated so that it provides the maximum benefit possible, said Andy.
Past examples of help given in Cumbria include providing essential items for refugees and asylum seekers and support with community integration as well as training in welcoming people.
“The Foundation already supports the work of refugee support groups in Cumbria and will be working with them and other partners to assess the needs of people and families as they arrive in the county,” said Andy.
He added: “We understand that many Cumbrian families are facing their own challenges as the cost of living increases and that not everyone is in a position to help.
“Cumbria Community Foundation exists for all the people in Cumbria and has other funds to help people facing issues, such as those struggling to heat their homes.”
Retired Carlisle firefighter Andy Bezuszko, 65, who has family in Ukraine, says the refugees will need help to adjust when they reach Cumbria.
“Getting a room is just the start of it,” he said. “I think many of them will arrive with just a bag. Although many I imagine will speak English, or basic English, they will need help with language so they can make connections with the local community. Depending on where they stay, they will need help with transport.”
He added: “The generosity of local people has been amazing, so many people have already donated money and goods to Ukraine. The generosity of British people is never in doubt, and I think we will keep needing it now.”
Andy’s late father came to Cumbria as a displaced person aged 22 after the Second World War. “My father never saw his parents again. But he had many happy years here,” he said.
Money can be donated to the Welcome Fund here: https://cumbriafoundation.enthuse.com/cf/welcome-fund
You can download the Welcome Fund fundraising guide here.