Image: Refugees in the UK are being supported by community groups to learn practical skills and feel a part of communities.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) is pleased to be working with the Freemasons’ charity through UK Community Foundations to support refugees from Ukraine across the county.

The Foundation has now distributed its £35,000 share to local organisations across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight supporting the integration of Ukrainian refugees into their local communities in one or more of the following ways:

Along with nine other community foundations in the UK Community Foundations network, HIWCF are participating in the project because our region has welcomed significant numbers of Ukrainian refugees this year.

HIWCF has awarded funding to the following projects:

Gosport-based Bridge to Unity received £3,000 to cover costs of jobs fairs and social events linking around 75 Ukrainians to jobs and people in Gosport.

Alexandra Kenchington, Director at Bridge to Unity said:

“Since the start of the war in Ukraine Bridge to Unity has been active in assisting those on the ground in Ukraine and also in welcoming to the UK those fleeing the war. The support from HIWCF and the Freemasons’ charity is going to enable us to continue this work and ensure refugees feel welcomed and supported.

“The funding will enable us to host events within the community that provide a forum for meeting others, whilst also providing support with employment, education and other practicalities that all those arriving to the UK as refugees face. It will also enable us to launch a service that connects refugees with individual volunteers to ensure integration into the community and offer hands-on support for everyone that needs it.”

“At Bridge to Unity we are committed to bringing the local community together through projects and events and this funding will directly support that”.

On the new partnership with the Freemasons’ charity, Jacqui Scott, HIWCF CEO stated:

“The community support for Ukrainians arriving in the UK has been fabulous.  As well as the people who have opened their own homes, community groups have been supporting families to navigate new health or school systems, or ensuring they have suitable clothes and access to food, and providing translation services. We can be immensely proud of how Hampshire and the isle of Wight have opened their arms and hearts to people fleeing conflict, and we are delighted to be able to manage funding to help enable that”

Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the Freemasons’ charity, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to provide substantial assistance to Ukrainians in need across the country. There has been an unprecedented wave of support for Ukrainians from the British public but there is a great deal more that needs to be done. These are people who have left everything behind in a country suffering the effects of a devastating war and I’m proud the help Freemasons have provided has now exceeded a million pounds.”