Locally, there are a number of community groups supporting Ukraine.
Tunbridge Wells Ukraine Refugee Support Group
This subgroup of Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees provides the 'wrap around' support for Ukrainian refugees coming to stay in Tunbridge Wells with the help of volunteers.
The group provides advice and support on processes such as registering to host a family or the visa application process. They aim to attract Ukrainians wishing to be hosted in Tunbridge Wells to post on this group and for hosts to communicate with them.
The Tunbridge Wells Ukraine Refugee Support Group also provides ongoing information for Tunbridge Wells hosts, and where information is shared on lessons learnt, processes, translations etc. They also share host sharing tips and information.
They are also providing English conversation classes via Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees and other volunteers. This is to support Ukrainians in the community who are not attending ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) language qualifications or want top up practice. You can find more information on learning English within the site.
“We are a small, committed team who came together with the purpose of making the experience of being sponsored in Tunbridge Wells as good as it can be under the awful circumstances.”
Debbie Hayes, Tunbridge Wells Ukraine Refugee Support Group
Ukraine Relief Group
Ukraine Relief Group was set up to bring like-minded people and groups together for the greater good of Ukrainians suffering unimaginable horrors. They have family in Ukraine so it really made the people who set this group up closer to this war than they could ever have thought.
They originally focused on getting aid into Ukraine and so far have moved approx. 15 tons into Kyiv and regions around it. A majority of what they have sent (70%) has made it to Ukraine's largest children's hospital in Kyiv. Another 12 tons is being prepared to go soon.
They then realised a need for Ukrainian guests arriving in Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas. The needs of guests having little to nothing, having been forced to take very little with them in desperation to escape.
URG are now based out of TN2 community centre which enables them to focus on both sides, in UK and Ukraine. Guests can now come to TN2 and look through all the amazing donations, clothes and stock up on essentials. This takes huge pressure off them and certainly makes the mothers feel far more relaxed knowing the children have what they need. URG can also source items upon request, for example there was a need for a specific wheelchair for a lady with hip problems, as well as a request for a guitar for a boy, within 10 minutes one had been sourced.
URG continue to accept donations for guests and for the Ukrainians trapped in war torn Ukraine. Updated weekly lists can be found on the Group's Facebook page.
The joy the toys table brings to the little ones makes the long days and weeks worth it, watching them play and pick whatever they want and seeing them smile again is truly a wonder. URG have also set up a play room for the kids to give the mothers the time to pick and sort items, while the kids are occupied and not getting bored.
They also welcome Hosts to visit and speak with them about the needs of their guests, and have had many through the doors and it has given everyone a great insight into what the guests want and need.
For more information, hosts can email the Ukraine Relief Group at:
"Ukraine Relief Group are here to assist our Ukrainian guests on arrival with much needed supplies, from clothing to sanitary items. We can assist hosts with much needed items along with advice. We continue to assist Ukrainians unable to leave the war torn country by sending donated aid."
Richard Akehurst, Ukraine Relief Group