Almost one year on from the invasion of Ukraine, one cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering its people continue to endure.
The longer the war goes on, we can become numbed to the horrific images and regular news reports. We are determined for that not to happen in Reading.
As a town, Reading has always gone above and beyond in providing support for people who are seeking refuge from conflict. Since the start of the invasion, we have welcomed 258 Ukrainian nationals through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Soon after the conflict began, Reading’s Mayor launched an appeal for financial donations to the Reading Ukrainian Community Centre. The appeal came after the Centre’s premises on Sidmouth Street were overwhelmed with generous donations of food, clothes, medical items, and other gifts-in-kind by local people in Reading. The idea was for the money to help with the costs of sending aid to Ukraine and to prepare the Community Centre for the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Reading. To date, an incredible £12,235 has been raised for this purpose and, once again, Reading has proved that it is a City of Sanctuary not only in name, but in our actions.
There is another important opportunity to support our Ukrainian friends later this month, which I’d like to draw your attention to. Next Friday, February 17, Reading will host a special benefit concert. It begins at 7.30pm and will be hosted at Reading Town Hall by the Mayor of Reading and our friends at the Reading Ukrainian Community Centre, whose efforts to support their fellow nationals have been incredible over the past year.
It promises to be an evening full of entertainment, showcasing Ukrainian culture in all its glory. Performances will include ‘Prolisok’ – who I’m told recently appeared on the BBC’s One Show and will be premiering a specially written dance for the event – and ‘Mirage’, who will perform a modern take on Ukrainian songs. Playing the bandura, the national instrument of Ukraine, is London group ‘Band Era’ and other special guests will take to the stage for performances in both English and Ukrainian.
All money raised at the tribute concert will go directly to aid Ukrainian people. You can book a ticket online at whatsonreading.com/venues/concert-hall/whats-on/good-evening-were-ukraine-benefit-concert-ukraine.
Please tell your friends and family and, if you can spare the time and a bit of money for a very worthwhile cause, we would love to see you there. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night.