In a first of its kind, refugees from Ukraine that have settled into the Buckingham & Villages area were able to take part in a live question and answer panel directly with local services.
The Buckingham Ukrainian Q&A took place during Refugees Week, whose theme this year is “healing” through community, creativity, and conversation.
A panel of local services including The Swan Practice Health Centre, Citizens Advice Bucks and Buckinghamshire Council was organised by Buckingham Town Council on behalf of the local volunteer group Buckingham Support for Ukraine.
The panel included: Jennifer Laws, Patient Services Manager; Shelley Wagstaff, Nurse Manager; Dr. Emily Foggin, GP and Lisa Carrington, Social Prescribing Link Worker from The Swan Practice Health Centre; Caroline Sturman, Volunteer Advisor from Citizens Advice Bucks and Deborah Stevens, Sponsor Liaison Area Lead from Buckinghamshire Council
With live translation from Ukrainian volunteer Ruslana Lazarenko, the panel was hosted at the University of Buckingham, who donated the space for free, and chaired by the Buckingham Support for Ukraine Chair, Heidi Young.
The support group asked to put together the panel in response to the clear need of arriving Ukrainians and their host families to get clear, impartial advice on a range of practical matters for settling into a new country. These include access to health, work, education, and long-term housing. Live translation meant that Ukrainian speakers were able to directly ask the questions they most wanted to be answered. Most queries were able to be answered directly by the panel, with some inquiries taken away for a response later. Anyone who would like a copy of the minutes when they are available should ask their Sponsor Liaison Officer, join the Buckingham Support for Ukraine group, or sign up for the email newsletter: https://forms.office.com/r/BZHF9dq1Pp
Ruslana Lazarenko told us that: “The Live Q&A panel was an incredibly important and useful event: it definitely helped Ukrainians to find answers to so many questions and challenges that they face daily while settling in a new country, especially for many of those who don’t speak English language. I can clearly see the appreciation of refugee families for such support from local community and council, it’s invaluable.
It was also a pleasure for me to volunteer at such an important event. Grateful for an opportunity to be a part of the help team for my people and my homeland - Ukraine.”