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18 Aug 2022

Foyle Friends of Ukraine initiative helping connect with Ukrainian families

Foyle Friends of Ukraine initiative helping connect with Ukrainian families

A section of the attendance at a rally in Derry in support of Ukraine.

Foyle Friends of Ukraine is a new initiative intended to make it easier for local residents and businesses to match with Ukrainian families as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which provides host families £350 a month in order to sponsor displaced Ukrainians with somewhere to live in the UK.

They have launched an online sign-up form and warmly invite prospective hosts and supporters to register their interest at www.FoyleFriendsOfUkraine .org or via the Foyle Friends of Ukraine Facebook page.

Foyle Friends of Ukraine is a collaboration between The COUP, a Donemana-based women's non-profit, and Derry-based international development charity Children in Crossfire. Derry- based video game developer Hypixel Studios is supporting the project with £10,000 of funding and office facilities, with an additional $20,000 provided by video game publisher Riot Games’ Social Impact Fund.

Hypixel Studios chief executive, Aaron Donaghey, has made a personal contribution of £10,000.

Local resident Susan is now hosting a Ukrainian family that she met via the Foyle Friends of Ukraine initiative.

She said: “I didn’t know how to find a family to support after signing up to ‘Homes for Ukraine,’ then I met Foyle Friends of Ukraine and now they are here and safe - it’s amazing.

”In addition to The COUP and Children in Crossfire, the initiative is being co- ordinated by Dr Dina Diurba and Dr Marina Sukhorukova.

A university professor and surgeon respectively, they have relocated to the Derry area from Kharkiv via the Homes for Ukraine scheme and are now working full-time as part of Foyle Friends of Ukraine.

Dr Diurrba said they were thankful to the people of Derry for their 'warm hospitality.'

She added: “Together we hope to make the Homes for Ukraine programme more accessible and easier to use."

The initiative is intended to run for three months and is fully funded for that duration, having raised over £30,000. Further financial aid is not being sought at this time, but local residents and businesses that are interested in providing housing or support to families from Ukraine are invited to register their interest online.

The sign-up form can be found at www.FoyleFriendsOfUkraine.org or via the Foyle Friends of Ukraine Facebook page. In particular, Foyle Friends of Ukraine is looking to hear from people who have temporary housing available in Donegal.

This is in order to support Ukrainians in urgent need while their UK visa applications are processed.

Richard Moore, founder and director of Children in Crossfire

Aaron Donaghey, chief executive of Hypixel Studios, said: "The ultimate goal of Foyle Friends of Ukraine is to make the entire process easier and more accessible for all parties. If all of us can do a little good, together we can do a lot of good."

Jeffrey Burrell, senior director of Riot Games' Karma Initiative, said: "Some of the most innovative solutions come from grassroots efforts, and Riot Games is proud to support this initiative with Children in Crossfire, The COUP, and Hypixel Studios. Collectively they've been able to identify need and adapt quickly within their community to help displaced Ukrainians find shelter and safety among the kind people of Derry- Londonderry.“

Children in Crossfire, the Derry-based international development charity that delivers education and healthcare programmes for impoverished children in Tanzania and Ethiopia, will be providing professional administrative support to the initiative.

Richard Moore, founder and executive director of Children in Crossfire, said: “Like so many, I have been deeply touched by the horrific war in Ukraine, so when Aaron approached me to seek Children in Crossfire’s involvement in the Foyle Friends initiative we were keen to sign up and play our part.

“While we will not be raising funds for this project as it is currently well resourced, we are delighted to be part of this excellent collaboration and are looking forward to ensuring it succeeds in all its goals.”

The initiative has the backing of the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke.

He said: “I am delighted that this consortium of local groups have pooled their resources to offer specialist and targeted support to those affected by the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. The time and funds donated to date is quite remarkable and I would like to thank the local groups involved for their contributions.”

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