16 August 2022, The Tablet

The 'true community outreach' helping Ukrainians in UK

The 'true community outreach' helping Ukrainians in UK

Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London, Kenneth Nowakowski (left), with Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain, Archbishop Nikitas, as they join other church leaders leading a crowd in an act of witness.

The Ukrainian Catholic bishop has described a welcome centre for refugees at his cathedral as “true community outreach”.

The centre, established in the months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, provides a “single point of contact” for refugees, with information on accommodation, sponsorship schemes and documentation.  It also allows them to speak directly to government officials, and offers psychological and medical support.  

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Eparchy of the Holy Family in London said that it is “a place that is safe allowing people to keep their dignity” in a new environment. An estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK since the Russian invasion in February.

“Many of these people have come through a lot of hardship,” said Andriy Marchenko, the director of the centre.  “They tend to be stressed out, they tend to be disorientated sometimes, and we aim to help them, to signpost them to the right services in the UK, to give them correct advice so that they know exactly what to do, what their next move should be in order to succeed and eventually to thrive in the United Kingdom.”

The eparchy set up the centre on its premises in Mayfair with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, a representative body of the Ukrainian community founded in 1946.  

Bishop Nowakowski said that the invasion initially “seemed to paralyse people of conscience and good will” but praised the UK’s subsequent efforts to welcome refugees and the cooperation the centre had received from government and the wider Church. The Catholic Education Service now includes a Ukrainian translation of its schools directory on its website.

Last week, the Jesuit Fund for Social Justice reported that it has been funding language lessons for Ukrainian clergy who have joined the Cathedral of the Holy Family, as well as a stipend for one of them. The demand for the cathedral’s liturgies and pastoral services has increased significantly from both new arrivals and the established Ukrainian community in London.

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