Mike Chantler, chair of Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council has set up a pioneering scheme to match displaced Ukrainian families with host families in the High Peak and a public meeting is being held tonight, Thursday April, 21 to help spread the message.
He said: “I think what we are doing is like nothing else happening in the country to help those people in Ukraine.”
Thanks to Mike’s contacts in Ukraine, families are connecting and chatting via Zoom and finding their best match before coming over here.
He said: “This way it makes it a bit less scary for everyone involved as you have already met and spoken with the people who you will be living with.”
Mike visited the Ukraine six years ago as one of his friends was a doctor over there and has been keen to help since the Russian invasion began in February.
He said: “I know a lot of people want to help but don’t know how so this seemed like the perfect way to bridge that gap.”
He is now working with Whaley Bridge Town Council and the Chapel-based Little Cherubs charity to bring in as many people as possible.
He said: “I believe the best things can happen when we pool our resources and Mike Glover over at Whaley Bridge Town Council has been amazing offering the full support of the council with this.
"The people arriving here will have gone through huge trauma and will have seen things we can never imagine, be left with the worry of leaving loved ones behind and now feel isolated in a strange country so it is important we support their religious and cultural beliefs and provide opportunities for them to meet up with other Ukrainian families too.
"Little Cherubs have been brilliant in coordinating everything from this side and providing wrap around care for the refugees coming to the High Peak by helping them with clothes and beds and creating a support network for the Ukrainian families.
"The parish council has also reached out to residents in East Cheshire and across in the Hope Valley as we want more people to get involved and help people who have had to leave everything.”
Connecting displaced families is all part of the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme which will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to bring Ukrainians to safety – including those with no family ties to the UK.
This means sponsors in the High Peak and Hope Valley will be able to nominate a named Ukrainian or a named Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home or in a separate property.
Mike said: “We have already had people offering to become host families or donating money to help people who are arriving with nothing which just shows the true generosity of the people in the High Peak.”
"For those wanting to get involved there will be a public meeting at Chapel Leisure Centre, Long Lane tonight, at 7.30pm about the rehoming scheme.”