Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s column.
This week has seen the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has been a chance to reflect on the events of the last year, what this has meant for the town, the council and most importantly the people who left Ukraine to come and live in Frome.
On Monday I went to a talk given by our colleague at the Council, Iryna, who left Kyiv at the start of the war and last year took on a job with FTC as Social Facilitator for the Refugee Hub. Since then, she and her colleague Dmytro, who is the Hub Co-ordinator have proved together to be a vital lynchpin in communicating and working with other Ukrainians living here in terms of providing support and advice.
During her presentation we were given a potted history of Russia’s role in the region and the devastating impact that this has had. We also saw a lovely drone film which captured the beauty of the country before it was devastated. Iryna spoke movingly and knowledgeably about her and her fellow country peoples’ experiences. Ukraine has seen a huge exodus of people in this last year. We currently have 50 families – mainly women and children – living here, and a massive thank you must go to the Frome families who have been able to open their homes to welcome guests, and the Frome Welcomes Refugees committee for facilitating and organising support and advice. Many now have gone on to establish jobs and homes here themselves, although this is not to say that the desire to return home is not powerful, and some have done so.
Next week sees the beginning of an exhibition by Ukrainian artists both here and in Ukraine, at the Silk Mill, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting the artists and hearing about their work; do go along if you have a chance, details can be found on their website.
On a cheerier note, this past weekend saw the towns first Wassail event at the Weylands where the fruit trees were planted last year by FTC. It was a great chance to say goodbye to the darkness of winter, look forward to the coming of the lighter days and drink a glass or two of something made of apples! It was great to see some of you there.
Finally as always, please do contact me or my fellow Councillors if there is anything we can help you with. You can find all our contact details, plus lots of other information for any advice you might need, on our website www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk.