Our Ukes Have Landed

Yes, they’ve come at last, flying into Manchester last Tuesday; and were treated to a fish’n’chips supper on arrival in Hull. In return they took us next day to a new Ukrainian restaurant (‘Lena’s’) in the city centre, where the food was terrific – highly recommended; and also the Ukrainian beer. They’re a lovely family, but with some heart-rending stories of death and destruction back home. And of Russian friends – now ex-friends – who have swallowed Putin’s propaganda whole.

When we came out of the restaurant we were met by demonstrations in Queen Victoria Square: on one side anti-refugee, by the self-styled ‘English Patriots’ waving flags of St George (I’d not come across them before); but on the other a crowd ‘welcoming’ refugees. The latter was easily the bigger of the two protests, which I hope reassured our new refugee friends; and indeed went some way to reassure me, after learning about a traffic-stopping demonstration in nearby Cottingham a couple of days earlier against a proposal to house asylum-seekers in a student hall of residence. I’m told on good authority (the police, via a lawyer friend) that most of the right-wing protestors came from out of town.

That accords with the treatment we – both refugees and ‘hosts’ – have been receiving from the Hull City Council, and from local voluntary groups. A lovely Council worker visited us the day after they arrived to talk to Sacha and Tanya and their two girls; to give them each £200 to start them off before their social security comes in; and to offer advice to them and us. Tomorrow we go into the Council Offices to register them formally, get them free bus passes and a bank account, direct them to a job centre, and much more. Kajsa and I were both warmed by the kindness of the City authorities, and of local people we meet – bus drivers, shop assistants, etc. All of which contrasts with the mean-minded hostility of those ‘English Patriots’. And according to Kajsa it even puts Sweden in the shade.

We also called in to a ‘Refugee Welcome Centre’ set up in the city by volunteers and backed by the Council, with activities for all ages organised in friendly and pleasant surroundings, and of course more practical help. Much of the latter is directed to teaching them English; which our family badly needs. We have been using the instant translators on our mobile phones; which are not entirely reliable, but by that token also give us – both sides – a lot of amusement with mistranslations. (Apparently I ‘don’t understand Jews’. I think I said ‘machines’.)

They are turning out to be perfect guests – friendly, grateful, and helpful. We’ll be leaving them to their own devices when we return to Sweden on Thursday. But they’ll have many other people to turn to for help if they still need it after that. Suella Braverman certainly doesn’t seem to represent the good folk of Hull.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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3 Responses to Our Ukes Have Landed

  1. Pingback: Support for Ukraine | Porter’s Pensées

  2. Good on you, Bernard!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Evans says:

    Hello Bernard, Well done – this is a story to warm one’s heart, to gainsay those who would rather live in a “hostile environment”. Full marks to Hull Council and its networks. I do hope your ‘guests’ Sacha and Tanya will be well looked after, after they have settled into jobs – there are plenty of jobs to go round. If they ever come south of the Thames, we can welcome them to West Sussex, and show them a few tourist traps – they will have to avert their gaze from the Russian dictionaries on my bookshelves, and not listen to beautiful orthodox vespers on our iPod. It is difficult to imagine where the UK is going to end up in ten years time….after us – but if only we could be sure of stories like this being multiplied ten times over – we would then have some hope that things will turn out better. Hoorah for Hull, and Hoorah! John E

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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