Refugees celebrate Ukraine Independence Day with city centre rally

Ukrainian refugees gathered for a rally to mark Independence Day today.
Iryna Shchetynina addresses the Ukraine Independence Day rally at Speakers' Corner, Lichfield today

Ukrainian refugees living in Lichfield district gathered in the city centre today to celebrate Ukraine Independence Day.

The rally at Speakers’ Corner in Dam Street saw the refugees wrap themselves in Ukraine flags, offer friendship bracelets and express gratitude for the welcome they have received across the Lichfield district since arriving.

Today is the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. It is also six months to the day since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine forcing more than 5 million people to flee their homeland leaving their loved-ones, homes and livelihoods behind.

Lichfield District is currently home to 130 of these refugees.

Addressing everyone at Speakers’ Corner refugee Iryna Shchetynina said:

“We are extremely grateful to all of you for coming along to show your solidarity with Ukraine.

“Today we celebrate our independence, but we can’t be totally happy because of what is happening in our country.

“Host families have opened their doors to us, people who lost their previous lives because of the Russian invasion.

“Your sincere smiles make us feel more comfortable in a foreign country.”

Lichfield District Council hosted today’s event. The Leader, Councillor Doug Pullen, said:

“We are so pleased to see each and every one of you, here.

“We hope you feel safe and secure in our district and pray for your victory.

“And to hosts who have opened your homes we greatly appreciate it.”

Lichfield District Council also hosted a wellbeing workshop for Ukrainian refugees in the council chamber at District Council House yesterday evening.

The refugee-led workshop yesterday evening focused on highlighting techniques that can be used to overcome anxiety and stress and promote mental wellbeing.

It was an opportunity for the refugees to socialise and gain information that could help them as they adjust to living here.

Meanwhile their children enjoyed soft archery and spikeball with the Active Lichfield team.

Published: 24 August 2022