Seven families fleeing terrible circumstances overseas have been helped by the generosity of strangers through Cumbria Community Foundation.
The charity’s Welcome Fund was established in 2017 to support refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Cumbria.
It has now paid out more than £4,000 to help those most in need, with Ukraine families among the most recent beneficiaries.
Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “As well as providing grants to families, the Foundation also funds the work of refugee support groups in Cumbria and we are working with them and other partners to assess the needs of people and families as they arrive in the county.”
“We are humbled by the generosity of communities that are supporting this fund and we understand that many Cumbrian families are facing their own challenges as the cost of living increases and that not everyone is in a position to help.”
The Fund brings together donations from individuals and groups in the community, as well as businesses, charitable trusts and other organisations.
The money is distributed in several ways, either as hardship grants to those who have moved to the county and have needs which are not covered by the Government, or to local community groups and partnerships who are providing a vast range of services and support, from the provision of essential items, to helping people settle into their new communities.
One of the Ukrainian families that has already benefited from the Welcome Fund is living in Newton Reigny, near Penrith.
Tanya Mulholland has lived in the UK for 15 years since meeting her husband, David, two decades ago when she was a travel agent in Kyiv and he needed help to change his travel tickets.
Seven members of her family travelled to safety here in April, her mum, aunt, sister and nephew, and cousin and her two sons all moved into their house after escaping Kyiv on a lengthy journey across Europe.
Three male members of the family were left behind to fight with the Ukrainian army.
Tanya says: “I am so happy to have them here and safe though there are tears every day for those left behind. We are so grateful to everyone who has donated to the Welcome Fund. It was so easy to fill in the forms and everyone was really helpful.”
The family has received £1,000 from the Welcome Fund to pay for food and essentials, and they’ve also had advice from locals about school and college places for the youngsters here in Cumbria.
Tanya added: “It has been a major help with just basic things, but also has helped my nephew study online so that he can take part in an emergency programme to complete his exams and finish his studies.”
According to Cumbria County Council figures, there are currently 244 Syrian and 137 Afghan refugees or asylum seekers in Cumbria, and more than 150 Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country.
The Ukrainian figure is higher than this as there are various resettlement schemes taking place, not all of them facilitated by the County Council.
The Welcome Fund supports all refugees and asylum seekers in Cumbria.
For more information, or to donate, visit: https://www.cumbriafoundation.org/fund/welcome-fund/