A group has been formed to help Ukrainian refugees who have already moved to Guernsey or are in the process of moving to the island as well as any refugees coming under the sponsored visa programme.
Deputy Chris Blin said that he wants to try to help refugees displaced from their homeland by Russia’s invasion. He is doing this in a personal capacity and it is not connected with his role as president of the Overseas Aid and Development Commission.
Chris Blin says: “I already knew a number of Ukrainians living in Guernsey and I made contact with them and suggested that we meet and pool our efforts to do whatever we can collectively for refugees.
“The aim of the group is to provide a venue where newly arrived Ukrainians can meet local Ukrainians over a coffee, make contacts and get help settling in and navigating things like employment opportunities, needing items, setting up mobile phone contracts etc. I am also indebted to Fiona Naftel, the manager at Les Cotils Centre, for giving her cafe for free for the support meetings each week.”
Six Ukrainian nationals took part in the inaugural meeting on Sunday 3rd April. They included Olena Pylypenko, who is Ava Inder’s mother, and who recently escaped from Odesa into Moldova and then onto London and Guernsey, where she is living with her daughter’s family.
Another member, Nataliya Zalyesova, explained what they wanted to achieve: “We are ready to offer support and give our time to greet, help and support Ukrainians who come to Guernsey.”
Natalie Fielding recently helped deliver aid from Guernsey to Poland, destined for Ukraine. She says: “I appeal to the governments of Britain and Guernsey to please open your doors to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict. It is important to speed up the visa process so that people can get to safety here quickly. We are ready and willing to offer compassion and help.”
A second meeting is planned for Sunday 10th April in Les Cotils cafe. Over the coming weeks the group will decide how best to help Ukrainian refugees and what assistance they will need from both Guernsey’s government and locals.