Sarah, Community Volunteer
Ukrainian Community Volunteer
Why did you volunteer with the Ukrainian community?
When the awful news broke about the war and what suffering people were going through, I thought long and hard about whether I could host a family but on reflection, both myself and our husband run our own business, we have two children at different schools and we couldn’t dedicate the time we wanted to hosting. So, I looked for other ways to help.
I’m a member of the Methodist Church and I said to our minister, what can we do? We need to do something. We have this great space in the centre of town with toys and volunteers, and I was friends with a Ukrainian lady, Natalya (our children go to school together) and she was really instrumental in the plan. Over time it’s evolved, and it’s become like a family. We provide hospitality and a safe place free of charge, it’s great for everyone.
I think a lot of people assume that the Ukrainian community all know each other, but the only thing that many of them have in common is that they are fleeing a war. It’s been great to see them make friendships and to see their group grow as a community.
Did you expect the Methodist Church social group to grow as big as it did?
We didn’t know what to expect. The first few weeks we had one family, but we were quite adamant that we needed to help make people feel welcome, even if it was only one person. If they felt welcome, we were making a difference.
It is amazing sometimes the numbers, and the number of children has been overwhelming. It’s busier than I thought it would be and it’s kept going, it hasn’t dwindled off. People still like to come on a Saturday, and it gives them a chance to socialise and the children time to play.
If you had one message to give to the Harborough community about the Ukrainian community, what would you say?
I would say how grateful they’ve been and warm they’ve found the people of Harborough. The kids have found the schools really friendly and warm and the way they are taught is really fun. My daughter is friends with a Ukrainian girl and she’s now just one of the kids.
I’d like to tell the people of Harborough not to forget that the war is still going on.
At the beginning, everyone wants to help and that’s great, but I think there’s now a need more than ever.
Have you always lived in Harborough?
I’ve lived here 16 years, I was from Leicester, my husband and I met in Kettering, and we wanted to have a family and Harborough was a great place for that.
What’s your favourite thing about Harborough?
The community and the fact that it feels relatively safe and, you can walk anywhere and you will usually bump in to someone that you know.
What’s your favourite place in Harborough?
The library, I love the library, it’s such a lovely space especially for the youngsters. We love Welland Park too which we are so lucky to have, I love the Rose Garden.
Do you think you’ll stay in Market Harborough?
It does feel like home, I think my kids are well rooted here and very happy at their schools. There are so many clubs for the kids, so many volunteering opportunities and I love the market too. I can’t see me leaving!
If you could share one memory about Harborough what would it be?
When I had my first son, I used to love that walk through Little Bowden Park. It’s great being a mum here.