SOME 45 homes have been offered to receive Ukrainian families thanks to humanitarian efforts from a British-run charity and nine town halls in Spain’s Costa Blanca north region.
Jalon-based charity Hope4u has already housed 12 refugee families in the Vall de Pop region.
A further 26 families are expected to arrive before the end of March.
Over 360 volunteers have registered to support the project with at least 125 rooms and 45 homes offered to refugees following appeals from local expat station Bay Radio.
Town halls have agreed to support any new Ukrainian refugees by securing school places, access to social securities and potentially subsidising bills for families who take the newcomers in.
“Six of us will drive from Jalon to the Ukrainian border in three minibuses next Monday (14th) to deliver baby food and blankets to keep mothers and children warm in the border queues,” Hope4u founder Richard McEnery, a 30-year Jalon resident, said.
“On Wednesday we head to Krakow, which is overflowing right now because there’s just not enough accommodation.
“The mayor of Krakow is desperate for European countries to help take in refugees, and we will be effectively representing Spain by offering a safe haven bubble on the Costa Blanca north.”
McEnery said he applied years of experience as a Royal Marine and international security advisor for world governments to coordinate a united local response with nine municipalities.
The list of participating town halls includes: Benissa, Lliber, Jalon, Alcalali, Parcent, Benigembla, Murla and Orba, with more municipalities expected to follow.
He said any donations to charity are being put towards products to help Ukranians in the border queues, as well as buying up a 9-seater minibus for further trips in future.
Hope4u’s appeals have been broadcast through radio interviews and campaign updates on Bay Radio – Spain’s leading English-language radio station based in Javea, Costa Blanca north.
Anyone can follow Hope4u’s journey to Poland and back by following Bay Radio (www.bayradio.fm) and its social media channels.
On the political side, Hope4u has benefited from the expertise of international humanitarian consultant Peter Sykes.
Sykes has worked for global NGOs like Save the Children and Oxfam as well as consulted for the UK government, UN agencies and key humanitarian players following conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Ethiopia and more.
Yet Sykes said he ‘turned down’ offers to work with major NGOs on the Ukrainian refugee response to focus procedural expertise in his own local area.
“I’ve been working in the humanitarian field for 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve actually had a refugee family living with me,” said Peter, who lives in Parcent.
“Donating to humanitarian causes can often feel distant or odd so it’s inspiring to be part of real action right in the local community.
“While volunteers are being incredibly big-hearted, we recognise that efforts must not disregard the host community either – my role in Hope4u is to oversee procedures to make sure schools are not overwhelmed, homeowners are protected, and we’re capable of receiving Ukrainian families with dignity.”
Sykes said fundraising was still a ‘key factor’ in the success of Hope4u, and has been ‘blown away’ by local families contributing their time, money and own homes to help.
As of March 9, the UN says that Poland has taken in 1,412,502 Ukrainian refugees, followed by Hungary with 214,160 and Slovakia with 165,199.
UN spokeswoman Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams told the BBC it was mostly ‘women and children’ crossing into Poland, often after a 24-hour wait at the border.
The EU believes the total number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian aggression could climb to seven million.
If you want to help Hope4u in their efforts to rehouse Ukrainian refugees in the Vall de Pop region, you can register to offer your home or become a volunteer via https://valldepopukrania.com/. Ideal candidates for rehousing Ukrainian families will be those with an annex or extra flat.
You can donate to Hope4u’s goFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/ukrainian-refugees-on-the-costa-blanca.
- Here’s what you can do to help people in Ukraine
- ‘We’re not Putin’: Expat Russian in Spain speaks out against war in Ukraine
- Exclusive interview: Local hero sets off to deliver critical medical supplies to Ukraine and bring back refugees