Refugees found a friendly place to gather and exchange information at the Ukrainian Institute
We’re so proud to be part of such a generous community. We have been overwhelmed by the incredible support for the H&F Ukraine Appeal, which raised more than £21,000 to give refugees from war-torn Ukraine support and a warm welcome in the borough. Despite the cost of living crisis, local people and businesses in Hammersmith & Fulham have made an incredible contribution to giving traumatised refugees the essentials they need to rebuild their lives.
Around two thirds of the amount raised went to WLW so they could continue their work as a community centre that reduces isolation and fosters inclusion.
The Ukraine Support Fund received £7,200, which was distributed to the local groups below, which applied for grants to fund projects for Ukrainians in the borough.
Since 1883, the Harrow Club has been a place where marginalised young people in West London have found opportunities to help them fulfil their potential. A grant from the Ukraine Support Fund helped pay for a Fencing Club, covering the costs of an instructor, transport and refreshments. This enabled 26 Ukrainian children to take part.
With funds for more sessions, Ukrainian children have also been welcomed into other youth club activities, such as cooking. Around half of the young people bring their parents, who can relax in a social atmosphere and access an informal food bank, which also helps address feelings of anxiety and isolation.
Citizens Advice Hammersmith & Fulham
Since October, Citizens Advice Hammersmith & Fulham has increased the number of English classes on offer by 50% with their grant money. More than 20 students attend each class with many regulars.
WLW and the Shepherds Bush Family Project refer students. Classes continue and the number of Ukrainian students is expected to increase. It’s hoped the classes will continue long-term as they are both an opportunity to learn and a chance for Ukrainians to come together, enjoy each other’s company and form friendships.
Ukrainian Institute London
The Ukrainian Institute London ran English classes for 35 displaced Ukrainians at WLW for 12 weeks between September and December, 2022. There were two classes a week for all students, with one at WLW on a Friday morning and another class on Zoom. As many Ukrainians with children had little access to childcare, a creche at WLW made it possible for parents to attend classes.
The WLW classes were also social occasions, with tea and coffee afterwards, and a chance to mingle and share experiences. Students were invited to the WLW Christmas party to celebrate with others. The school manager and a teacher are displaced Ukrainians, so the initiative is providing work to skilled people who understand the needs of the students.
Kibo Productions/Barons Court Theatre
Kibo Productions is the managing company of Barons Court Theatre, a local venue that supports emerging and early career artists, especially those who joined the industry in non-traditional ways and have limited networks in the UK. Founders Sharon Willems and Leo Bacica believe theatre is a powerful tool for transformation. Money from the Ukraine fund supported five workshops in improv acting, vocal coaching (two parts), playwriting, and networking practice, and nearly 80% of the attendees were refugees from the local area.
One Ukrainian participant said: “I feel a little desolate here sometimes. These workshops helped me feel less alone.” Another commented: “Being in a room with other artists is fundamental to maintaining sanity and one’s mental health.”
Sands End Associated Projects In Action has been driving community projects to enrich children’s lives since 1970. With grant money, SEAPIA has supported families by providing a safe and stimulating space for children so parents could get on with finding work and sorting out accommodation. Children attending after school activities received hot meals and fruit, and were able to acquire English language skills and build friendships. They could also share their own language with staff and other children.
“I cannot thank you enough for the support and kindness that you have shown us,” said one mother. “We now feel that we can belong here and although we miss our country very much, finding you has helped my girls to become happier and more able to cope as they have found friends and people they can trust.”
West London Welcome
WLW hosts a cheerful space where Ukrainian refugees can socialise and access vital resources in a friendly atmosphere. The WLW grant paid for a case worker, who has been an essential part of running a weekly Ukrainian drop-in and advice session over the past year. The case worker managed a range of vital tasks, including assessing urgent needs, preparing documents, making referrals and liaising with Ukrainian arrivals and their hosts, the council and other NGOs. The drop-in provided a warm atmosphere with dedicated translators where Ukrainians could meet, relax, and ask questions and 118 people, including families with children, were supported in the borough and local area.
The case worker ensured vulnerable Ukrainians received the resources they needed and checked in with them regularly. The case worker also maintained ongoing communications with relevant authorities to monitor evolving policies for new arrivals, and re-allocating resources as necessary. Practical support included help with housing, applying for benefits and dealing with bureaucracy.
Donors we want to thank
We are very grateful to the Earls Court Development Company, which donated £4,800 to WLW, and a further £2,800 to the Ukraine Support Fund. ECDC also donated £3,000 to support refugees and asylum seekers from other countries receiving support at WLW.
We also appreciate the continued support from the Friends of Charing Cross Hospital and their £1,000 donation to WLW.