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Wednesday 12 June |
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King Charles opens London welcome center for Ukrainian refugees



John Burger - published on 12/02/22

His Majesty formally opens Ukrainian Welcome Center in presence of First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.

King Charles III, joined by the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, paid a visit to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in London this week, where the king formally opened a welcome center for refugees from war-torn Ukraine.

“The visit of His Majesty the King along with Mrs. Zelenska offers a powerful sign of solidarity between the people of the United Kingdom and our sisters and brothers in Ukraine,” said Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, according to the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. “We are honored that His Majesty has come back to our cathedral, and we pray his next visit will be to give thanks for an end to the war – a war that has taken so many innocent lives.”

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski presents icon to King Charles III as First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska looks on.

An icon for the king

Bishop Nowakowski told Zelenska that each day prayers are offered for her husband, as well as for the military defending Ukraine and all of the Ukrainian people.

The bishop presented to King Charles an icon of the Theotokos of Eleousa – the Mother of God of Tenderness – a gift from His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The icon was written by Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofiia Atlantova, Ukrainian iconographers and artists who are founders of the charity project “Icons on Ammo Boxes.” The icon is written on part of a munitions box brought from the front lines.

Icon of the Mother of God of Tenderness, painted on part of an ammunition box from Ukraine.

After being presented with the traditional Ukrainian welcome of bread and salt, King Charles met with staff, volunteers and benefactors of the Ukrainian Welcome Centre (UWC), as well as temporarily displaced Ukrainians and their British sponsors.

“The visit of His Majesty gives a great boost of morale to our staff, volunteers, and all the temporarily displaced Ukrainians who come to the Welcome Centre for help,” said Andriy Marchenko, director of the UWC. “All those who have been driven from their homes in Ukraine were especially excited about seeing the First Lady of Ukraine here as well.”

The UWC began to provide guidance and assistance to the temporarily displaced Ukrainians after the first visit of King Charles and the Queen Consort, Camilla, to the Cathedral at the beginning of March, just after the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Refugees from Ukraine get a visit from King Charles III and Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski.

The UWC is a partnership initiative between the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London and the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain. It has been supported by the UK Government’s departments and many non-governmental, religious and charity organizations, private sector, and  individual sponsors. Designed to help Ukrainian nationals arriving in Great Britain after being displaced by Russia’s war against their country, UWC is a point of contact for all essential information for arrival, settling and long-term living in the UK as well as a social hub helping Ukrainians stay connected to their culture and heritage.

The UWC has processed about 4,000 requests on-line or by telephone contacts. More than 450 people have been assisted during the drop-in sessions, many of whom participate in weekly activities such as English courses, art therapy and mother and toddler groups, etc. The Centre is headquartered on the premises of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Mayfair.

RefugeesRussiaUkraineUnited KingdomWar
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