Express & Star

West Midlands has welcomed more than 2k Ukrainian refugees since conflict began

More than 2,000 Ukrainian refugees have found sanctuary in the West Midlands since the start of the conflict – according to figures released to coincide with the second anniversary of the war with Russia.

Andy Street showing his support for Ukraine

Residents across all seven council areas in the West Midlands Combined Authority area have generously offered families and individuals fleeing the war with a place to stay as part of the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

A total of 2,242 Ukrainian refugees have found a host family in the West Midlands, and across the UK, more than 200,000 have arrived. The vast majority of those are women and children.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chairman, said: “The UK has helped to lead the way when it comes to international support for Ukraine, and the people of the West Midlands have shown incredible generosity in welcoming Ukrainian refugees to our region.

“We remain as committed as ever to supporting those Ukrainians seeking sanctuary from the terrible conflict that continues in their homeland. While providing safe haven is essential, we believe true support goes beyond just housing.

“That's why we've developed initiatives like our employment-linked ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] courses, where refugees can acquire English language skills alongside job-specific training, empowering them to contribute to our community and build independent lives.”

In 2022-2023, £15.2 million was invested from the adult education budget for ESOL training courses.

Vitalii Lun, who has been learning English as part of an ESOL course

Vitalii Lun and his family arrived in Birmingham in 2022 in Birmingham last year and started learning English in August 2023.

He said: “The course has been really helpful. When I was back in Ukraine, I was a videographer, but when the war started, everything I had worked for had gone.

“The ESOL course has helped me to grow my business and I am now a self-employed videographer my English has improved, and it is helping me to find new clients.

“I want to say thank you for the support that is there for Ukrainian people, because in hard times you feel everyone’s support very strongly.”