A FUND to help refugees build new lives in the county has been launched by Dorset Community Foundation.
The Dorset Welcome Fund has been inspired by the plight of Ukrainians fleeing to the UK in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country but it will also be used to assist grass roots groups and charities in the county help all refugees who want to make Dorset their home.
Director Grant Robson said: “No one who has watched the images of families being forced from their bomb-shattered homes could fail to be moved by their plight. Our hearts go out to the children separated from their extended families with no idea how many of them are still alive.
“Here in Dorset they will find a warm welcome and the space to rebuild their lives but we know the grass roots community groups and charities who will be supporting them will need extra resources. That’s why we are launching our Dorset Welcome Fund – to extend the hand of friendship and compassion to these frightened families.”
The fund is being supported by a £50,000 donation from Dorset Council, which has been helping refugees settle into the county.
Fortunately most of us can only imagine the distress that Ukrainian refugees have endured
Cllr Laura Beddow, Cabinet Member for Customer and Community Services at Dorset Council, said: “Dorset has a proud history of welcoming new arrivals at times of crisis, offering homes and support to people escaping the horrors of war. Fortunately most of us can only imagine the distress that Ukrainian refugees have endured.
“We’ve all felt powerless, watching the news and social media, but by donating to this incredible cause we can make a real difference to the refugees as they build new lives here in Dorset.”
Mr Robson said the community foundation has been liasing with groups that are likely to be supporting refugees. “We are very thankful for the support of Dorset Council, which has been at the forefront of welcoming refugees into the county,” he said.
“The intention of this fund is to meet not just the immediate needs of clothing or food but to be there in the longer term for whatever help is needed.
“We will continue talking to the voluntary groups and charities who are supporting refugees so we can understand what their needs are likely to be in the longer term. It could be to assist with things like language skills, provide pathways into education or employment, improve support for physical and mental health or help them connect with the communities they are living in.
“The important thing is that this fund will ensure there is a resource to support those groups and charities who are working so hard to welcome people into our county.”