Mill Hill US hosted its first drop-in afternoon for Ukrainian refugees in an initiative aimed at building bridges with the local community and offering practical support.

More than 60 people attended the event, including at least 35 Ukrainians all of whom have come to live in northwest London having fled the conflict in their home country.

Four translators, both rabbis and shul volunteers facilitated activities, conversation and introductions over coffee and cake

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet welcomed everyone in the spirit of peoplehood and said that we as Jews know what it is like to be unable to live in our own country and welcomed the Ukrainians to England.

Amanda Dysch, one of the organisers, said: “I was absolutely delighted with the turnout, which showed the strength of feeling within the community as well as the need among our Ukrainian guests.

“It was really moving to see how many connections were made among participants, with people helping each other out, translating and offering their support in so many different ways. Seeing the young Ukrainians playing with children from our shul was very special.”

Mill Hill shul kids together with their Ukrainian counterparts enjoyed bracelet making, playing giant Jenga, nail arts and football. The community had donated much-needed adult toiletries and stationery items which were gladly received.

The event was also an opportunity to hear from the Ukrainians about the support and services they need – most in demand were host families for their friends and families still trying to escape the conflict in Ukraine, English lessons, help finding and applying for jobs, and assistance with transport needs.

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