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One Year on: a look back at how Wiltshire has welcomed Ukrainian guests moving to the county

Wiltshire Council will raise the Ukrainian flag and take part in the moment of silence as residents are encouraged to look back on the last 12 months welcoming Ukraine guests to the county.

Published 22 February 2023
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Wiltshire Council will raise the Ukrainian flag and take part in the moment of silence as residents are encouraged to look back on the last 12 months welcoming Ukraine guests to the county.

February 24 will mark 12 months since the invasion in Ukraine began

Since then and thanks to the generosity of sponsors, 1345 Ukrainian guests have arrived safely in Wiltshire under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

444 Ukrainian children have started at Wiltshire schools - with 220 primary and 224 secondary aged children settling into their new school settings. The council's Family and Community Learning team has been offering adults ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language) courses across Wiltshire, which more than 200 learners enrolled to date. 

As families have become more settled, guests have been looking to find more permanent surroundings, with around 125 families moving into their own private rented accommodation. The Homes for Ukraine team has also helped to facilitate 53 rematches into new host accommodation.

Charities and volunteers have been a backbone of the Wiltshire support with around 18 community hubs and support groups across Wiltshire, including Salisbury, Devizes, Marlborough and Trowbridge. Regular meetings, events and activities take place so Ukraine guests feel a part of their local community and to ensure refugees and host families can access support as required. Details of community support is available here Community support - Wiltshire Council

Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council said: This is a difficult anniversary to mark as we know the last 12 months have been the hardest for Ukraine families who have left their homes and had to make new lives elsewhere. Last year we welcomed Ukraine guests knowing our residents would step up and provide the welcome they deserve. Wiltshire responded to the situation in Ukraine and so many welcomed the guests into their homes and helped them to settle into the county. Our teams, communities and partners have worked hard to try and ensure that this has been an easier transition with the right level of support for those who have needed our help.

We are now at a point where some families are moving out of sponsor homes into their own homes and into employment and laying foundations in Wiltshire with the continued support of our teams.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme relies on the generosity and goodwill of Wiltshire residents, and while some guests are moving on to their own homes, we are still in need of more sponsors. Becoming a host is a big commitment for those involved but makes a massive difference to the Ukrainian people coming into Wiltshire. Anyone who thinks that this is something they might be able to offer, I would encourage people to sign up as potential hosts at Homes for Ukraine: record your interest (opens new window)

On Friday 24 February at 11am, to mark the one-year anniversary, we will take part in the national moment of reflection in all of our council hubs, and we will be flying the Ukrainian flag as a tribute to the courage of the Ukrainian people.

Homes for Ukraine guest, Daria Shypitsyna, said: In July 2022, my sister, her family and I arrived in Trowbridge. The war, the loss of your usual life and moving to another country caused very serious stress. A different language, different culture, different values, everything is different, even the direction of traffic on the roads is different than we are used to in Ukraine. 

We have incredibly good sponsors who help us as much as possible. We call them our English parents, because they really care about us as their children. 

We registered for an ESOL course at the college and  the children went to school - they are really happy now. I have a job and I also volunteer at the Library every Saturday. When I was accepted as a volunteer, I was happy, because it was my first success in a new place. I'm very thankful that they believed in me and gave me this opportunity to help at the library. Helping out there made me more confident, made me feel like a part of the community and made me happy when I could do something for it. I am so happy when people come up to me and ask me something, and I can understand them and help them. I am very pleased to see books in Ukrainian being added to the library, and that my knowledge of Ukrainian can also be useful. For me personally, the time spent in the library is always a time of relaxation, where I forget about the outside world and the stress I face.

Thank you for helping our people, thank you for supporting us, thank you for trying to make our integration into a new life as comfortable as possible!

People can find out more about the ESOL courses by going to (opens new window) or by calling 01225 770478.

People who have queries on Ukraine matters can find information on our website at Frequently asked questions general - Wiltshire Council.  If there are specific questions related to being a host or providing community support people can email the dedicated Ukraine inbox which is (opens new window).

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