The event was hosted by the mayor at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens
Blackpool residents were given the opportunity to meet and talk to Ukrainian guests in a special event hosted by the town’s mayor.
The Mayor of Blackpool Cllr Kathryn Benson hosted the special Homes for Ukraine event at the Winter Gardens venue. Invitees were offered the opportunity to meet Ukrainian guests, hosts, councillors, council staff and Voluntary, Community and Faith organisations (VCFS) who have been actively involved in supporting people to find a place to live and offer additional assistance.
Cllr Kathryn Benson hosted the event on Friday September 30 alongside the Leader of Blackpool Council, Cllr Lynn Williams to welcome Ukrainian guests who have been provided with homes, shelter and additional support in the town. The town has worked to together with local authorities and families to help offer accommodation where needed.
To date, Blackpool has currently welcomed and has been working with 52 households made up of individuals, couples and families to provide a safer haven for people during this time of conflict. Much needed shelter has been provided in a mix of accommodation including space within residents’ own homes, household annexes, or rentable houses.
The Mayor of Blackpool Cllr Kathryn Benson, said: “The event at the iconic Winter Gardens venue was a very special evening and it was wonderful to see so many people here involved with helping so many Ukrainian people.
“I am so proud of our town and our residents who have selflessly come forward to become hosts and offer a safer place to live. They have shown extraordinary acts of kindness and compassion by generously opening up their homes to those most in need. This warmth to other people has played a key part of a national effort in ensuring the safety of the people of Ukraine in the United Kingdom.
“It was a real honour to welcome our Ukrainian guests to Blackpool and especially to the Winter Gardens. This venue is famous for hosting major international dance events such as the European championships, which took place in April and included a large number of dancers from Ukraine which was wonderful for many to see.
“Together, Blackpool has united to do all that we can to welcome Ukrainian guests with the support and work of so many. That support has come from far and wide including the fantastic voluntary organisations that have stepped up to help – such as the Rotary Club which hold frequent support group meetings for sponsors and guests.
“Also, Empowerment, Home-Start and the Volunteer Centre who help with support visits, and Citizens Advice who help with advice and information – and so many others including council workers who have also worked hard behind the scenes. We are continuing to do everything we possibly can to ensure that Ukrainians arriving in Blackpool have a warm welcome and have the support they need to settle safely into our community.”
Kendall Lee the Rotary Club’s President, one of the key supporting organisations added: “The Rotary Club of Blackpool is pleased to support the Ukrainian families staying in Blackpool.”
Olena Datsenko came to Blackpool from the Ukraine with her two children and were welcomed by Katrina and Jonathon Lee who are residents of the town and stepped forward to help a Ukrainian family.
Olena said: “I am very happy to be here, Jonathon and Katrina have been wonderful and welcoming. We have been here since May. It’s perfect now that we have set a routine with the children and we can walk to school as it’s only next door.
“I have made some friends and am happy. If you had said to me a year ago that I would have to leave my home in Ukraine then I couldn’t have imagined it but I am stronger than I know.”
During the evening Olena’s eldest daughter had a great time and had the opportunity to mix and meet some new Ukrainian friends. Olena’s hosts Katrina and Jonathon Lee said: “We were struck by the simple things we take for granted here like safety, being able to walk to school, play in the park and visit family without fear, and as we can share that with someone from Ukraine, how could we deny them that basic human need.
“As we have our own children, hosting a family with kids was ideal as we’ve already got all the kit! It has been a joy to get to know Olena and her children, and to help them a little in a very hard time for them.”
The Leader of Blackpool Council, Cllr Lynn Williams, echoed the words of welcome expressed during the evening by saying: “I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone for their support and hospitality in helping our guests from the Ukraine settle into life in Blackpool. Blackpool has always been an open and welcoming place and the town will continue to provide what support we can.”
- 05:25, 5 OCT 2022