Pictured at the launch of the appeal are l-r Zhenya Shkil, Councillor Kevin Guy, Rotary Club of Bath President Roger Morris, Councillor Lisa O’Brien, Councillor Chris Dando (back l-r) Alan Keeling, Rotary Club of Bath Treasurer (back left). Rachael Hushon, Paul Dowling, Councillor Alastair Singleton and Councillor Ruth Malloy.
Bath has been flying the flag in support of the Ukraine for many months and B&NES is heavily involved in the hosting of Ukrainian refugees, but now the council has teamed up with Bath Rotary Club to raise money to buy emergency generators to help power hospitals, schools and homes blacked out through the Russian bombing of the country’s infrastructure.
Already 13 generators have arrived at the central Ukrainian city of Oleksandriya – thanks to funds raised by local donors – and now an urgent fundraising appeal has been launched to send more generators to the Ukrainian city which has built ties of friendship with communities in Bath and North East Somerset.
It follows a request for help by the mayor of the city, which has been building links with Bath and North East Somerset since the Russian invasion of February 2022.
Now a new group, the Friends of Oleksandriya, has launched an appeal, with the aim of raising funds for a further 12 generators to maintain warmth, light and power to hospitals, schools and places of shelter in the city, which is similar in size to Bath.
Convened by Bath & North East Somerset Council leader, Councillor Kevin Guy, with cross-party support and bringing together partners from across the community, the Friends of Oleksandriya group is headed by residents, Paul Dowling, Rachael Hushon and Zhenya Shkil. It is the result of a series of online discussions held between Councillor Guy, Serhii Kuzmenko, the Mayor of Oleksandriya, and Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, aimed at strengthening links with the area.
Zhenya Shkil, a resident of Ukrainian origin now living in Bathford, and a founding member of the Friends of Oleksandriya group, who now formally represents City of Oleksandriya in the UK, said: “Oleksandriya is a small city of similar size to Bath, with surrounding villages, similar to North East Somerset. It has become a major centre for refugees and the injured and needs help to cope with the influx of people, as well as the effects of Russian attacks on infrastructure.”
Councillor Guy said: “Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost 12 months ago, Bath and North East Somerset’s communities have welcomed more than four hundred Ukrainian refugees. The Friends of Oleksandriya is the outcome of increasing dialogue between the leadership of our two cities bringing people together to help strengthen this relationship. We are starting with Oleksandriya’s most pressing need, as expressed to me by the city’s mayor, which is for generators to maintain warmth, light and power to hospitals, schools and places of shelter.
“The first consignment of 13 generators, funded by generous local donors, has now arrived in Oleksandriya but more are needed. Thanks to the new Friends group, there’s now a dedicated webpage where people can donate, established with the generous help of the Rotary Club of Bath, which will collect donations and enable people to use Gift Aid. The Friends of Oleksandriya is now asking for support from individuals and businesses and I am also contacting local schools to suggest ways of getting involved.”
People can donate here via https://www.generatorsforukraine.co.uk or try https://www.gofundme.com/f/bath-rotary-Ukraine-collection?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_content=undefined&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer&utm_term=undefined direct.
Serhii Kuzmenko, the Mayor of Oleksandriya, said: “At a recent online meeting with representatives of B&NES Council and their leader Councillor Kevin Guy, I explained that we urgently needed generators for our city as they would enable us to equip more warm places and provide our schools and hospitals with light and warmth. Thanks to the speedy action and generosity of people in Bath and North East Somerset, I am pleased to say that the first generators have now arrived safely in our city and are being put to good use. We would like to express our gratitude to Councillor Kevin Guy and all the residents of the Bath and North East Somerset for the swift action in response to our needs and their help in these difficult times.”
Roger Morris, President of the Rotary Club of Bath, said: “Our club has already raised funds and also sent warm clothing to Ukraine. We are pleased to be able to partner with the Friends of Oleksandriya, and with Rotary in Ukraine, to broaden the humanitarian support we are able to give.”
Zhenya Shkil, added: “Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, I have been spending every day helping refugees in all ways possible. Bath & North East Somerset residents are amazingly generous people who opened their homes and offered love and safety to those unfortunate Ukrainians who had to flee their country to protect their children’s lives. But as a local community we can do more. We can carry on supporting those people that ended up living with us, as well as take responsibility for a small Ukrainian city of the similar size to Bath and help them to survive this war.
“Inevitably, most humanitarian aid never makes it to small cities like Oleksandriya. Since the Russian Forces made it their mission to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure and freeze people in “the now cold and dark discomfort of their homes” we must stand up and protect our brothers and sisters. There are children who cannot even have a bedside story or a bedside lamp light, they cannot have hot food or even running water because of recent black-outs. I am sure if every local person donates as much as they can we can deliver needed generators to the beautiful city of Oleksandriya and bring them light and warmth now, when it’s expected that the temperature will drop below -20 by the end of this week.”