Over recent weeks, the focus of Russia's savage attack on Ukraine has moved from Kyiv to the Eastern regions. Sadly, the misery blighting the lives of millions of Ukrainian people continues.
It was inspiring to recently visit the Macclesfield Ukrainian Aid Collection Point. Initially inspired by the founders', Jackson family, ties with Ukraine, the group now has over 70 volunteers.
They have encouraged generous donations from many people in our area. Vans have been loaded with supplies and driven to Ukraine. At the start of the conflict, their focus was on food and clothing. Now, it’s much-needed medical supplies. So far, donations worth £175,000 have been collected and others can be made by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s also moving to see local communities working together to pool resources and skills to assist in bringing sponsored Ukrainian refugees to homes of local hosts under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Groups involving communities in and around Marton and also Prestbury have created networks to assist with this important work.
I have been working with my Parliamentary office to help follow up on applications by local hosts with the Home Office. Cheshire East Council is working hard in this area, building on its experience supporting Syrian refugees with local groups, such as the well-respected Refugees Welcome.
As a DWP minister, steps have been taken to ensure Ukrainians arriving in the UK have immediate access to benefits and support with employment opportunities. I continue to work with Home Office and DLUHC ministers to help speed up visa application processes, while recognising the need for safeguarding checks.
Supporting Ukrainian refugees, both locally and across the country, and the Government providing humanitarian and military aid are playing a vital role in helping to bring peace to Ukraine and put an end to President Putin’s tragic war.