Meet the volunteers making a difference for Ukrainians in Huntingdonshire

Organiser Andrew Maclaren, and HDC community development officer, Caroline Hudson at Buckden Towers, St Neots

Organiser Andrew Maclaren, and HDC community development officer, Caroline Hudson at Buckden Towers, St Neots. - Credit: Hunts Post

Residents and businesses in Buckden are demonstrating tremendous community spirit, helping to support Ukrainian refugees in Huntingdonshire.

Every Tuesday at Buckden Towers, volunteers come together to provide food and English lessons for Ukrainians, giving them a chance to make friends and feel welcome.

Organiser Andrew Maclaren said: “The main feel and the main objective of this site is we want the Ukrainian people to realise it’s a community for them within our community."

There are currently more than 250 Ukrainians living in Huntingdonshire, staying with 95 host families, which Huntingdonshire District Council community development officer Caroline Hudson has helped coordinate.

Caroline said: "We wanted to offer somewhere for them to meet other Ukrainian people, make friends and build contacts."

Buckden Towers have kindly been allowing free access to its premises and meeting rooms on a weekly basis.

St Neots Pizza Express donated more than 25 pizzas to support the Help Ukraine Huntingdonshire volunteers.

St Neots Pizza Express donated more than 25 pizzas to support the Help Ukraine Huntingdonshire volunteers. - Credit: Andrew Maclaren

On May 10, more than 70 Ukrainians enjoyed 25 delicious pizzas donated by St Neots Pizza Express.

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Andrew added: "The first week was very emotional, we were expecting about 20 to 25 people, and 43 turned up.

"When they saw the tables laid out, the flowers, candles, all the preparation and care put into the first week, they were very emotional, and there were tears from both sides."

The meeting room at Buckden Towers, St Neots, all prepped and ready for the arrival of Ukrainians.

The meeting room at Buckden Towers all prepped and ready for the arrival of Ukrainians. - Credit: Hunts Post

St Neots Waitrose, Day's Butchers and Buckden Nisa Local have donated food and groceries, whilst volunteers have generously gifted summer clothes to refugees who only brought winter clothes.

Irina Kryk arrived in Huntingdonshire from Kyiv, Ukraine, and said: "It's different from Ukraine, but everything is just amazing, and we really like it here.” 

“Our host family has been perfect. We were just in shock that everything was prepared for our arrival and in our rooms.

"Our host even gave our kids presents which was really great, and we really appreciated it.” 

Volunteers at Buckden Towers prepared salad and other food for the Ukrainian refugees.

Volunteers at Buckden Towers prepared salad and other food for the Ukrainian refugees. - Credit: Hunts Post

Andrew and Caroline are now looking at other venues to create more community hubs, making it easier for host families to get to.

Caroline added: "We are grateful for all of the community support that we have at the moment.

"We understand that it is not going to last forever, so we have set up a GoFundMe page – Help Ukraine Huntingdonshire – and it’s a way for people to help."

To help the continued support of Ukrainians in Huntingdonshire, visit www.gofund.me/2c6ce36a