Bolton Council has been thanked for the support they have provided to Ukrainian refugees in town since the start of the war with Russia.

Bolton Branch Chair of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn, said he is "really thankful" for the support that has been shown as the two-year anniversary takes place today (Saturday, February 24).

Yaroslaw said: “We are eternally grateful to Bolton Council and their staff who have done a tremendous amount of work.

“In general, the support for our Ukrainian guests has run very smoothly and that is credit to the staff at Bolton Council.

“I also have to praise my committee members too and members of our organisation because we made our guests feel welcome, we made them feel that there is none of this us and them, we are one community.”

Yaroslaw  thanked the council as new data is revealed showing the number of Ukrainians who have taken refuge in Bolton as the two-year anniversary since the start of the war in Ukraine approaches.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 – and since then more than 200,000 refugees have arrived in the UK through two schemes.

These are the family scheme – which allows Ukrainians living in the UK to bring family members over from their home country – and the sponsorship scheme, where individuals can offer to look after refugees fleeing the conflict.

Data from the Home Office shows 191 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK having been sponsored by residents of Bolton since the spring of 2022, from a total of 219 visas issued.

The sponsorship scheme – also known as 'Homes for Ukraine' – has seen 143,400 people fleeing the conflict arrive in the UK.

Local figures are not available for the family scheme, but 56,800 people have arrived through it since it was launched in March 2022.

Speaking about the schemes, Yaroslaw said: “These have been successful schemes as far as the Ukrainians are concerned.

“I do know that of the 191 that 61 have either gone back to Ukraine or have gone to another country or to another town, so there are about 140 Ukrainian guests in Bolton now.

The Bolton News: Candle Light PrayerCandle Light Prayer (Image: Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn)“That of course doesn’t include those who have come over and gone into their own accommodation.

“It was very vital that these schemes and the support were in place.

“I had people crying to me at the beginning when they first came over with joy because they felt that they weren’t alone.”

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As the weekend approaches, marking the anniversary, Yaroslaw has shared how the Ukrainian community feels.

He said: “We still believe that we will be victorious, we still believe that we can evict the trespassers on our land and that includes Crimea.

“We are feeling eternally optimistic.”

The Bolton branch of Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) will hold a candle light vigil and prayer for Ukraine on Saturday, February 24 at 6pm in St Patrick’s RC Church on Great Moor Street.

The branch will also be hosting a memorial service and fundraising concert the day after on February 25.

From 2pm, residents are invited to attend the service at Bolton Parish Church to remember all the fallen heroes as well as raising funds for those still in the war-torn country.

The Bolton News: Memorial Service and fundraising concertMemorial Service and fundraising concert (Image: Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn)At the event there will be a ten-minute memorial service followed by a poignant concert with the Ukrainian Chamber Choir Svitoch and other Ukrainian artists performing.

The Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Mohammed Ayub will be in attendance alongside the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Diane Hawkins, Chris Green MP, and a number of councillors.

Attendees are asked to make a donation for admission either on the day or beforehand at the Ukrainian Social Club located at 99 Castle Street.

Cllr John Walsh said: "I want to encourage people to come because it will be well worth attending.

“I heard the rehearsal, and the choir were absolutely spectacular.

“There is no charge, and tea and coffee will be served. Donations are welcome for the Ukrainian appeal."

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