Local communties’ response to Ukraine crisis ‘can only make you proud’

galway daily news Over 800 Ukrainian children now enrolled in Galway schools

Groups and individuals across Galway have been praised for their response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis over the past number of weeks.

Groups in local communities have been “so responsive” – from welcome committees to culture nights, according to CEO of Galway Rural Development (GRD) Steve Dolan.

GRD has been involved in resettling refugees, spending recent weeks supporting initiatives from sorting donations to providing direct supports to centres in the county.

Last week, the GRD team was busy moving donated items across the county, to and from some of the main centres.

Senior Manager of GRD’s SICAP team, Anne Cassidy, said that they are organising donation drives for items into their offices for nearby centres, and recently they have received approval to redirect SICAP funding.

“It’s a huge challenge for the team, and we intend on hiring a Ukrainian to work with us and help with translations and in terms of explaining rights, entitlements, etc,” she said.

Ms Cassidy also highlighted the wider county response.

“The Galway public continue to be very charitable. The local businesses and business owners we’ve contacted asking for targeted aid have been enormously generous, and indeed we’ve also already found several Ukrainians work, mainly in retail.

“The extent to which the county has responded has been remarkable.”

Steve Dolan added that as well as people in local communities, he can only praise the work of the DSP, the HSE, and other organisations.

“At our end, we’ve hired a full-time Outreach Officer seconded to and funded by the HSE which links-in with our own SICAP and Tús-RSS teams,” he said.

“We’ve also taken our proposal for a Ukrainian-specific Tús programme directly to the Minister. These people need ‘purpose’ and are so keen to contribute.

“We are hopeful – given the benefits in terms of education and training, the contribution to mental and physical health, and especially in terms of integration and breaking language and cultural barriers – that our request will be granted.

“So many Ukrainians want to play a role in their new communities and we should support them in doing so.”