The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes, recently played host to a special reception at Council headquarters in Coleraine, to help welcome over 30 Ukrainian refugees into the Borough and to highlight and thank volunteers for their dedication in providing support.
Hebron Free Presbyterian and friends are currently hosting a group of 33 evacuees in Ballymoney. Church members rose to the call for help, working tirelessly to transform Sunday School classrooms into bedrooms to accommodate families.
Donations were also received in the form of new beds; bedding; window blinds; a shower unit; a washing machine; fridges; and a hoover. Numerous food contributions were also received, as well as financial donations.
At the event the Council also launched its new welcome leaflet, produced as an essential guide for those arriving into the area. The leaflet contains important information about a range of services including advice centres and local support organisations offering language classes and other social activities.
Speaking about the reception and the new welcome leaflet the Mayor stated:
“As the situation in Ukraine has evolved, so too has the community spirit to pull together to help provide a lifeline for those most in need. I have been touched to see and hear about the various pro-active efforts of our local churches, organisations and individual volunteers who are generously giving up their time, money and in some cases, homes, to help refugees feel welcome.
“A huge thanks to Reverent Park and his wife Susan for being instrumental in driving this particular effort and to all of the members and friends from Hebron Free Presbyterian for their demonstration of humanity at its finest. That thanks extends to other groups and individuals across the Borough who are doing their bit to assist and support.
“Council are determined to do all we can to help people integrate and adjust to life in a new area and the production of this new leaflet will hopefully be of some comfort to those arriving.”
Recounting his decision to get involved Reverent David Park reflected:
“I, like many others across the world, couldn’t believe what was unfolding when war broke out in Ukraine. I was in Romania, preaching in a church in Timisoara, when I witnessed the outpouring of aid in preparing the church to receive refugees.
“Upon arriving home my wife Susan and I felt burdened to help and asked ourselves – what can we do to help?
“After a visit from Donald Fleming from Faith in Action on 13th March, we discussed how we could help support the families from his ministry in Ukraine and after assessing church facilities, and talking to the elders and committee, we set about making preparations.
“Susan and I were amazed and thankful for the help from friends and associates, including the translation skills of one of our members. We greatly appreciate the reception organised by Council and feel the welcome leaflet will be of great value.
“We have enjoyed dining and sampling Ukrainian soup, borscht and are honoured to have them in our home and church – it’s truly an amazing story when a church and community come together to help.”
Council’s welcome leaflet is available to download in Ukrainian, Russian and English and can be accessed here