Mercury Article:  The huge showing of support by Westonians for the Ukrainian people

It has been wonderful to get so many emails and letters showing support by Westonians for the people of Ukraine after ‘mad Vlad’s’ invasion. Whether it’s been collections of essential items, with some local residents even getting into vans and lorries to make deliveries to Ukraine in person; or cash donations from individuals and community groups like Rotary and Lions; or people offering space in their homes to Ukrainian acquaintances, friends and relations. The reactions have been reassuringly warm, open-hearted and generous.

We’ve been showing support in other, creative ways too: with Ukrainian flags in kitchen windows or flying from public buildings and churches; sports clubs switching to wearing blue and yellow colours; or public vigils and demonstrations that are supported by people of all ages from 5 to 85. Our whole area has been keen to show solidarity.

But it hasn’t all been straightforward. Some local people who want to offer their spare bedrooms to desperate Ukrainians have been getting in touch because their Visa applications are taking too long. Part of it is simply a problem of numbers, with the Government Visa teams overwhelmed by a huge surge in demand. They’ve drafted in lots more people but, in the chaos of people fleeing their homes, I’m afraid there are still delays. My small team of two caseworkers have been doing their utmost to help where we can, and I should give a big shout out to the ‘WSM Homes for Ukrainians Group’ on Facebook for their recent e-mails and posts which have helped a lot too.

The sad fact is that this war is likely to last for quite some time. But I’m incredibly proud that Weston and the nearby villages have stepped up and are doing what we can. ‘Slava Ukraini’, as the saying goes!