Residents from Buckingham and surrounding villages gathered at The New Inn Pub on Thursday 24th March to come together and create a plan to support arriving refugees from Ukraine to Buckingham.
The meeting was organized by Joanna Ford, who unfortunately couldn’t attend on the day due to covid. Joanna said that she wanted to start the group as “I feel that during covid communities have really come together to support one another. In Ukraine those communities have been ripped apart. By coming together to help those coming to live in the Buckingham area, I hope that we can support them to find a new home, whether temporary or permanent in The U.K. & show them that there is a community here for them. I hope that we can give practical support and a friendly face.”
Around 40 attendees filled the courtyard. After introductions were made pledges to offer support were given by local faith groups, community groups, Council services and the University from room space for support groups and refugee drop-in groups, food banks, tutors, translators, coordinating of welcome packs, job advice and befriending.
One key theme was the need to offer the right support, being conscious that these are individuals and families leaving a traumatic situation. Those present who knew they would be hosting families talked about how anxious the refugees they had spoken to were to be able to get started in Buckingham straight away, including getting their children places at school.
The Buckingham Support For Ukraine group has started a Facebook page, which anyone interested in volunteering, or who is planning to be a host family in Buckingham and the surrounding villages is encouraged to join. They have also started an email newsletter, which you can sign up to via the Town Council.
A great start was made, but it is hoped that many others will get involved to help in whatever way they can, to ensure the welcome and support offered for refugees coming to Buckingham is sustainable and effective.
Cllr. Margaret Gateley, Mayor of Buckingham, who stepped in to Chair the meeting in Joanna Ford’s absence said that: “I am sure that we have all been shocked by what is happening in Ukraine. This meeting was a good way of identifying what support will be available for refugees and their host families. There is a real sense of our community coming together to offer what we can, to provide a warm welcome for people who have fled from their own country seeking a place of safety here.”