Portsmouth is showing its solidarity with the people of Ukraine by celebrating their Independence Day.
24 August is Ukraine's Independence Day and to mark the occasion, Portsmouth City Council is holding a flag-raising ceremony in Guildhall Square on Wednesday 24 August from 11am to 11:30am. The council extends an open invitation to all residents to join and reflect. Sunflowers, Ukraine's national flower, will also be made available for supporters at the event (while stocks last), kindly donated by Sam's Sunflowers at Stoke Fruit Farm on Hayling Island.
Portsmouth will also light up its landmark buildings - Spinnaker Tower, the Guildhall, and central library - on 23 and 24 August. The buildings will be lit up in yellow and blue, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, to show the city's solidarity with the country.
This year marks 31 years since Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union and six months since the country was invaded by Russia.
Since the first families from Ukraine arrived in Portsmouth in April under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the council has been working with a range of partners to support families to settle in the city. The EC Roberts Centre provides the families and their hosts a caseworker to guide them through the settling-in process. This has included help setting up bank accounts, securing school places and ensuring their first months in Portsmouth are comfortable with regular visits to their homes and social events.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme is still open for applications from potential hosts. To begin the process of opening your home to families fleeing the war, visit the 'Support for Ukrainian refugees' webpage. [for print: go to portsmouth.gov.uk and search for 'support for Ukrainian refugees']
People from across the country will be showing their solidarity with Ukraine through the #SunflowersForUkraine social campaign. With the sunflower being the national flower for Ukraine, the nation-wide campaign aims to encourage residents to show their solidarity with Ukraine through growing, crafting and sharing pictures of sunflowers for Ukrainian Independence Day.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:
“Portsmouth stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian community, and we invite all residents to join us in showing our support at the flag-raising event on Wednesday 24 August.
"Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones in the war and those still living through the conflict. Portsmouth is proud to firmly stand with them.
“Over the last six months, we have welcomed 65 family groups in Portsmouth under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Portsmouth will continue to stand by them and work closely with partners to support those arriving in the city as they become part of our communities.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the fantastic people of Portsmouth for their role in welcoming Ukrainians to our city. Some have offered accommodation, others have offered help through their businesses, and some have extended their friendship and given their time.
“Whether you join us at the event, host a family from Ukraine, share a picture of a sunflower, or support a charity, I’d encourage all residents to celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day and support the community.”
For those wanting to support the Ukrainian community, there are a number of charities approved by the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) who have launched appeals to help people in Ukraine. Learn more on www.portsmouth.gov.uk/Ukraine