Ukrainian Support One Year On

Ukrainian Support One Year On

As we reach the twelve month anniversary of the full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia and its troops, it’s hard to imagine a day without terrible reports and images of death and destruction. Since February 2022 some eight million people have fled Ukraine and become refugees seeking safety in other countries, many fleeing with only the bare essentials and most often leaving loved ones and family behind, living with the constant fear of what has become of them on a daily basis.

Over the last year Tandridge has welcomed over 400 Ukrainians, mostly women and children, and the community has supported many more from the neighbouring areas of Croydon, West Kent and wider Surrey. We have seen amazing efforts to welcome these families into our lives with hosts, schools, local businesses and community groups coming together to provide not only practical help but also emotional support, compassion and friendship.

Caterham School and its community has been a key part of this work. Our local Ukrainian Christmas Appeal was massively supported by both Caterham parents and staff and saw over 150 presents bought for Ukrainian families in need. Alongside this, the Caterham School Bakers once again did am amazing job of putting on a great spread for families to enjoy on the day.

Sals Shoes, a charity supported by the Caterham School Parents’ Association, has continued to generously donate to all of our giving days with their pop up shoe shop – making sure children and their mums have shoes that are comfortable and suitable – one little boy recently told us after receiving a pair of shoes “It’s great to have a new pair of trainers – now my feet don’t hurt”.

We have also received many private donations from parents of vouchers, translation services,  equipment and practical help which has been gratefully received and very much needed.

Despite great efforts all round, unfortunately the war continues, so our work is by no means done. For many of the families we work with circumstances have become more precarious and unstable, due to the worsening situation back home, coupled with the housing issues many of them are now facing, being unable to find suitable longer term accommodation in the area.

Local Councillor Annette Evans said:- “I would particularly like to thank Caterham School and parents for their amazing contributions to our clothes and Christmas present appeal and of course the wonderful cakes. Our Ukrainian guests have now got to know Caterham and have settled into schools and jobs and improving their English. What we really need now is to support these families with finding rented accommodation and more sponsors to help guests whose current sponsorships have come to an end. If anyone can assist in these areas, please do get in touch with Annette here via the Tandridge District Council website 

Local host and Caterham parent Claire Dunn added “Since my guest and her three children arrived, I have stood back in awestruck admiration as she has settled her children in school, found herself an English speaking job and conjured up delicious meals on minimal income. All whilst operating as a single parent with support networks she has had to start from scratch.”

“Since 28 April 2022, whenever I have felt overwhelmed I know where to look to get some perspective. We can’t change the world – but if anyone has a few spare vacant flats up their sleeve, please let us know…”

Despite the challenges as a community we will continue to do everything we can to help. We will be running our next giving day on Saturday 11 March. We are focusing primarily on toiletries and hygiene products, alongside our usual free tea room and pop up shoe shop from Sal’s Shoes. If you would like to and are able, please click here to purchase and donate items and products through our Amazon Wishlist, everything will go directly to a local family in need.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Caterham School community for all its support over the last year. We really could not do what we do without your support. It really is testament to the generous and caring environment we are lucky to be a part of.

Louisa Dreja

Ukrainian Support Coordinator

Back to all news