Alnwick support group formed to help Ukrainian refugees

A new support group in Alnwick is helping refugee families settle in and sort out practical needs.

Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 1:24 pm

There are now more than 20 volunteers in the Alnwick Homes for Ukraine Community Support Group, connecting hosts and their refugee guests to advice and information about local services, facilities and supplies.

Chairman Andrew Duff said: “When the crisis started and the government set up a scheme for hosting refugees, I personally felt it was something I wanted to get involved with.

"Talking to friends in Alnwick, we found that others wanted to do it as well, while others had no spare accommodation but wanted to help in some way and that’s where the idea of a support group came in.

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Alnwick Homes for Ukraine Community Support Group. Pictured are: Michelle Duff, Louis and Joanna Dassen, Beth Gascoigne Owens, Andrew Duff, Vivien Kay, Paul Stenhouse, Desiree Musio, Kerrie Andrew, Marilyn Iley, Rob Andrew and Michael Holliday.

"We realised there was a similar group in Rothbury so we organised a meeting and lots of people turned up, including people who have families here already or are waiting.

"We had a really good exchange of ideas and so far have been helping with things like visa application forms, booking appointments, helping with the English language or even arranging for furniture to be moved.”

There are around 250 Ukrainian families in Northumberland now.

"There are only a handful in the Alnwick area at the moment but there are others in the pipeline and we want to ensure we have everything in place for our guests,” said Andrew.

“We have to remember that they are fleeing a war zone and fathers have often been left behind. They are going to need time and space to adjust to a new country and a new way of life and we have to be careful not to thrust them into the limelight.”

Andrew and his wife are expecting their guest to arrive any day now.

"We’re both retired now and recently hit 70 and the lady coming to stay is about the same age as our grown-up daughter who has moved out so we hope it will be a good match,” he said. "We’ve had lots of video calls and messages going back and forth so we’re looking forward to it.”

Any volunteers wanting to join the support group should visit or email [email protected]