Telford MP to do 'all she can' to help Ukrainians in town

Telford MP Lucy Allan has pledged to 'do all she possibly can' to help people from Ukraine who are being re-homed in the area.

Lucy Allan with members of Help Ukraine-Telford
Lucy Allan with members of Help Ukraine-Telford

Ms Allan visited a weekly meeting of Help Ukraine-Telford on Friday morning at Meeting Point House, in Southwater, to see families and individuals who have come over from Ukraine to live in the town and hear their stories and problems they have faced.

The group was set up by Lawley resident Magda Benadda at the start of the war in Ukraine, to help co-ordinate aid efforts from Telford and later on to start helping with re-homing refugees. Around 50 families have been re-housed, many of whom have faced obstacles around visas, employment, the language or claiming social security.

Lucy Allan with some of the children who have come over from Ukraine

Ms Allan said she would be employing a Ukrainian member of staff who speaks English 'as soon as she can' to deal with the Ukrainians who have come to live in the area and give them a helping hand.

Speaking at the meeting she said: "There are a lot of challenges that they need the Government's help with - some of which can be done through their MP - a lot of it around documentation such as National Insurance numbers, lost passports, applications for benefits, accessing of language courses; all of these areas can be frustrating to deal with when you have just come from a war zone.

"Having someone in my office to deal with things like this will not only be good for the people who have just arrived or been here a short while but also for the host families who deal with the other day-to-day issues as well as working full time in some cases. So if we can take some of that off them it will be a good thing

"The visa process is much smoother than it was. I have had my staff in London working on it full time and on the phone to the Home Office to the point where I can say that every visa application for someone from Ukraine to come to the Telford area has gone through or is going through, but it's true there have been delays early on in the process which are hopefully now being ironed out.

"It is amazing the way people in Telford have reached out to help people in Ukraine. -I am incredibly proud of the way they have stepped forward and they are doing an incredible job. It's not just a case of having a spare room - it is the whole process around it as I have heard today but I have also seen today the support network that exists through groups like Help Ukraine-Telford in supporting each other with regular meetings and by still co-ordinating aid efforts for goods to go over to the Ukraine.

Appeal for shop to help Ukrainians in Telford

Meanwhile, the chairperson of Help Ukraine-Telford Lynn Cooper has appealed for an empty shop unit so they can set up a permanent base to carry out their work.

The group has grown since the start of the conflict - it recently became a Community Interest Company (CIC) and appointed a board of directors. Lynn said the weekly coffee mornings at Southwater had been invaluable in bring the Ukranian refugees together to meet up socially and exchange advice on work, visas, schools and other areas that come up.

She said: "We already have a good distribution network due to Apley Farm who have provided a barn free of charge for six months to store the medical supplies, baby products and other things that regularly go out to Ukraine via Poland but if we had a drop in hub where people could donate there or the Ukrainian families coming in for help and advice.

"At the moment Telford is clambering with all sorts of communities trying to access resources and we don't want to jump the queue but we do want to help our Ukrainian friends as much as we can because they have come from a really bad place and some of the stories that we have heard are unspeakable."

"We have only just become a CIC a few weeks ago and have identified a number of empty properties in the Wellington area that we might be able to use as a base. Because we are now a charity, the owners of these might receive relief on their rates and at the same time would really be helping the people who have escaped a war-torn country and come to live in a totally new one with all the difficulties that entails."

A new meeting point has been set up by the group at All Saints Parish Centre, in Wellington, every Tuesday from 5pm-7pm. For more information on the group or if you are able to help by donating a unit, e-mail lynn.cooper71@yahoo.co.uk

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