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Mayor of Kyiv writes to thank West Midlands for supporting Ukraine and welcoming refugees

The mayor of Kyiv has written a letter praising the West Midlands for its support for Ukraine and generosity in welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

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Vitali Klitschko

The letter was sent by former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko to Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street on the anniversary of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and less than a month after the first anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion.

As of February, 1,663 Ukrainian refugees had found a host family in the West Midlands under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

It included 767 in Birmingham, 109 in Sandwell, 90 in Wolverhampton, 90 in Dudley, 88 in Walsall, 280 in Coventry and 239 in Solihull.

Across the UK, more than 110,000 have arrived – the vast majority being women and children.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was set up on March 14, 2022 and allows Ukrainians to live, work, study in the UK and access public funds.

It is one of the fastest-organised and largest visa programmes in UK history.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street showed support for Ukraine on the first anniversary of the invasion last month

In his letter Mayor Klitschko wrote: “Allow me on behalf of Kyiv and the Ukrainian nation to express our highest consideration to you and all the officials and residents of the West Midlands for your consistent support of Ukraine.

“It is the support of our friends for the citizens in need, both who took refuge in your towns and cities of the West Midlands, and those who are weathering all the challenges at their homes in Kyiv, that help us see who our true friends are, and our friendship is only growing stronger due to your actions.”

He added: “With the Homes for Ukraine scheme nearing its one-year anniversary I would like to stress the value of people in the UK... understanding the importance of further support of Ukraine and its citizens - as only by defending our common democratic values to the very end, can we succeed in calling ourselves free.”

The letter from Vitali Klitschko

Mr Street said: “From aid to providing sanctuary, the UK has helped to lead the way when it comes to international support for Ukraine.

"Thousands of local people right across the West Midlands have contributed to this effort.

“When this tragic conflict does finally come to an end – and peace and freedom is restored – I hope to work with fellow regional leaders like Mayor Klitschko to develop closer trade and cultural ties in the months and years ahead.”

The UK Government is marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme throughout March.

Officials have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the scheme and encourage more hosts to come forward to support re-matching of guests who need somewhere safe to stay during their time in the UK.