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Swindon Ukranian Refugees.PNG
Swindon Evangelical Church
Swindon Ukranian Refugees.PNG
Swindon Evangelical Church
UK News

Swindon church welcomes 17 Ukrainian refugees

by Kelly Valencia

A Swindon church is celebrating the arrival of 17 refugees from Ukraine.

A Ukrainian member of Swindon Evangelical Church was able to process the group's visa via the UK's government extended family scheme, meaning church members are now able to host those who've fled war.

"On Sunday, they wanted to sing for us, they asked to sing, the dad got on the guitar, and all 17 of them stood up and sang praises to God in Ukrainian. Even though they left everything behind, they were still able to praise God and that was really humbling for us," associate pastor Brian Whittaker told Premier.

This is the second time that the group, which includes a mother and father, 13 children, an aunt and a grandmother, has been forced to leave their home, having fled Crimea in 2014.

Earlier this month, they decided to leave Kiev and head towards Poland, and after a long journey and six-hour round trips to the embassy to get their visa sorted, the group arrived in the UK less than two weeks ago.

"Obviously this lovely family that we already had in our church was not able to put up 17 people in their home as you can understand. So therefore, one of the challenges has been finding things like accommodation and transport for that number of people but longer term the council [will have the] responsibility to house them under that scheme, "Pastor Brian continued.  

But even though there has been some challenges, Pastor Brian said it has been "really moving" to see the church and the Swindon community rally around to welcome and help the group to settle in.

"It's been wonderful to see people using their time, their money, their talents, rallying around to sort out accommodation, temporary accommodation at the moment for this 17 people. Even a local primary school gave us a minibus to use on Sunday so that we didn't have to use all the cars.

"People are using their skills on things like working out how to open up a bank account without a permanent address, benefits issues, try to find English lessons…people have used their skills to really come together to help out."

According to Home Office figures, Britain has granted 25,500 visas to Ukrainian refugees since the start of March, most of them issued to Ukrainians with relatives in the UK.


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