BACKGROUND STORY - StokesleyforUkraine
David & Caroline Horton from Stokesley signed on to offer 2 rooms as part of the original Home for Refugees UK government programme.
We quickly realised that along with so many others that there was a gaping hole in the process as no there is obvious way to connect with the vast number of Ukrainians needing help.
David via a web-based Language Exchange platform started to reach out to an ever-growing number of English-speaking Ukrainians. Via this we met Olga whom we are delighted to open our home to; her visa application is submitted, and we are looking to meet her in Hungary over Easter and bring her back to Stokesley once visa approval is granted.
We are now in the position where requests for help from evacuees exceeds our ability to put them in contact with hosts/sponsors.
Initially, as many want to link with known fellow evacuees our focus is based around our immediate catchment area; Tees Valley & North Yorkshire. Evacuee requests to come to the North East are increasing rapidly via the following routes:
- Increased requests from people on the language platform as the war escalates and more civilian populations are subject to ongoing shelling from rockets and missiles.
- Olga herself is coming from Kharkiv a region where 1.5 million people have been told to flee by Ukrainian government. Some are seeking shelter in the UK looking to follow Olga's lead.
- We will meet with Olga at a refugee centre/Help Point near the Hungarian/Ukrainian border where we will link further with other evacuees looking for sanctuary in UK.
Obviously, there is big uncertainty of how exactly how rapidly evacuee demand will increase but all the signs based on our conversations is that it will be exponential.
Many, like us originally, in the UK are frustrated about the difficulty of making contact with suitable evacuees to host.
Stokesleyforukraine will work together to create a win- win situation and by providing direct links between Ukrainian evacuees and UK Sponsors.
After a month's communication by email and Skype with a range of people of different ages and background in Ukraine I can say that at times it has been quite harrowing but always deeply humbling to experience and witness the shining courage, resilience, and positive attitude of everyone in Ukraine I have had the honour to interact with.
Only last night, Olga & I, were in conversation with 2 x (mother and child) who had lost their International Passports - bombed while they were sheltering. Both mothers were saying we are not afraid to die but we want our children to live.
I believe Ukraine's war is our war and people in circumstances such as this deserve and need whatever help our region, the UK and the civilised world can offer.
Stokesley,Teesside and North Yorkshire is a region that can be truly recognised for reaching out with compassion, love and support to people who have lost all their worldly wealth and possessions but also in many cases - what cannot be replaced - their loved ones.
David Horton - April 12th 2022
P.S.In the course of Skype conversations with Olga when she was still in Kharkiv - she asked me to help her help her people and since then we have been working together under the banner of Stokesleyforukraine to do just that. Olga arrived in Stokesley on May 2nd and our work continues with an ever-increasing number of amazing volunteers and supporters.