Helping more Ukrainian families settle here in Devon was top of the agenda when Central Devon MP Mel Stride made a recent visit to Silverton to meet with Tanya Larsen, one of the founders of the Devon Ukrainian Association. The pair were joined by Mid Devon resident David Lowes, who lives near Puddington and has signed up with his wife Caroline to host a refugee family. They were matched with a mother and daughter but after delays processing their visas Mr Stride stepped in to help. In total, the MP has now assisted with more than 100 visas for refugees hoping to reach Central Devon. As Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, he also recently chaired a parliamentary inquiry into the sanctions the UK has imposed against Russia.
Tanya, whose parents managed to escape through the Mariupol corridor, said:
“We have had a very generous response from families in Devon offering to host refugees and part of the work of Devon for Ukraine has been to assist with many of the practical issues involved in matching and supporting sponsors and refugees. It was very useful talk through some of these challenges with Mel and discuss the importance of making sure refugees are properly integrated into our communities.”
Mr Stride added:
“Russia’s brutal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, and the war crimes Putin has committed, have devastated an entire country. I am proud that the UK has helped to lead the international response, both in terms of military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine and by imposing severe sanctions on Russia. But we need to speed up the issuing of visas for refugees and ensure there is long-term support for refugees, particularly in terms of education, healthcare and housing. The work Tanya and her team are doing is extraordinary and I will continue to support them in any way I can.”
Formed on 24th February, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the Devon Ukrainian Association has been raising funds for Ukrainian refugees and delivering supplies to the Ukraine/Poland border. It has five directors, each of Ukrainian heritage, including Tanya who has taken a leading role in linking refugee families with households here in Devon. For more information visit devonforukraine.com.