Ukrainian and host matching service to hold regular meet-ups

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk

Safeplaces RBWM – which matches Ukrainians to host families in the borough – will be running regular meet-up events for hosts and Ukrainians.

The organisation, which is in the process of becoming a charity, acts as a matching service for hosts to help set up ‘a good family unit’ of Ukrainians and their hosts.

It helps the process run smoothly, offering help with visa applications and advice on the step-by-step processes involved with setting up bank accounts, benefits, schools and suchlike.

Safeplaces said it has made food contacts in banks and Job Centre Plus in Maidenhead who have been ‘extremely helpful’.

Lately, Safeplaces RBWM has been holding meet-ups with hosts and guests.

The first was hosted by the Odney Club in its conference centre, allowing guests to walk around the grounds and enjoy free refreshments.

Around 80 Ukrainian families and hosts who are part of Safeplaces RBWM and the Marlow Ukraine collective met up and shared numbers, support and advice.

On the second meet-up last weekend at The Fifield Inn, more than 50 families attended – including hosts and Ukrainian adults and children.

The pub provided free food for the Ukrainian guests.

Safeplaces intends to hold similar meeting events regularly.

“It’s for the sustainability of the community, getting everyone to share their experiences,” said Arti Sharma-Grey of Safeplaces RBWM.

“We’re getting a feel for how many people are in the community.

“It’s about trying to establish relationships, support and advice for each other.”

The organisation has also been helped by several recent local fundraising efforts, such as a garage sale by Andrew and Bernice Lomax in Holyport, which fetched £400.

The money has helped Safeplaces RBWM offer £30 food vouchers to bridge the gap while waiting for benefits.

Meanwhile, employers have been coming forward in the area to offer jobs to Ukrainians, while others have been running initiatives to raise money for Safeplaces RBWM.

Business in Bracknell is having a fundraising event with all funds going to Safeplaces and Goyals has kitted out Ukrainian children with uniform clothes.

Safeplaces is appealing for more help of this type, to pay for food, transport, educational equipment and more.

This weekend, Arti’s interactive storytelling bus will be at the Odney Club for the Cookham Festival. All funds raised will go towards Safeplaces RBWM.

Tickets are available via Eventbrite at tinyurl.com/mrx9mhy9

Safeplaces is now offering home visits with a Ukrainian translator for new Ukrainian families and hosts to connect and receive advice.

“We have met a lot of hosts who have now offered to volunteer and provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise,” said Arti.

People can register their interest to host and new families in the area can register their families by visiting www.safeplacesrbwm.org.uk

The organisation is also looking for volunteers. It can be contacted by email on Info@safeplaces.co.uk

For fundraising enquiries, call 07912 101619.

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