Derbyshire organisations launch free support service for Ukrainian refugees

A new outreach scheme has just launched in the Derbyshire Dales to support Ukrainian refugees’ continued settlement into the community with no end in sight for the conflict back home.
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The Rotary Club of Matlock and Cromford church charity River Network have teamed up to create the Integrate initiative, which was launched at an event at Starkholmes Village Hall on Friday, March 31.

The free service will run every Wednesday at the hall, from 1pm, offering advice, information, and guidance in areas such as employment, housing, language, training and other needs.

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Organisers hope that Integrate can help refugees overcome the challenges of rebuilding their lives in a new country and look forward to a brighter future.

River Network chief executive Terry Eckersley addressing members of the community at the Integrate launch event.River Network chief executive Terry Eckersley addressing members of the community at the Integrate launch event.
River Network chief executive Terry Eckersley addressing members of the community at the Integrate launch event.

River Network chief executive Terry Eckersley said: “We are proud to offer our Ukrainian refugee community a place where they can get the help and guidance they need to succeed and integrate into their new lives in the UK.

“We are grateful for the support of the Matlock Rotary and the Matlock Mayor for making this evening possible and for their ongoing support of the program.”

Mayor Paul Cruise spoke at the event, which also included fun, food, music, and giveaways, including phones, phone cards, cash cards and food hampers.

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Royar secretary Terry Fox said: “We are excited to partner with River Network in providing this important service to our Ukrainian refugee community. We are committed to helping them find their footing in the UK and build a better life for themselves and their families.”

According to the latest official statistics, 364 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the UK over the past year via visa applications sponsored by people in the Dales.

That accounts for almost a quarter of all those in Derbyshire, which places 15th out 153 upper tier local authority areas in England and Wales for the number of arrivals, and the Dales claims to have welcomed the highest number of refugees per capita of any district in the country.

Following the first rush of generosity at the outbreak of the war, local councils and public services are now grappling with long-term arrangements for their new neighbours, meaning grassroots aid efforts continue to be vital.

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For more information on helping local refugees, see the ‘Homes for Ukraine, Matlock and surrounding area’ group at facebook.com/groups/663500861607091.

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