Posted on: Thursday 8 September 2022
Ukrainian refugees living across Gwent got the chance to meet each other at a special picnic at Pontypool Park on the weekend.
Around 100 families, individuals and sponsors attended the event on Saturday afternoon, which included a buffet, the chance to take part in a variety of sports activities and a free trip to Torfaen Museum.
It was organised by Torfaen Council's Regional Community Cohesion team, who are supporting 81 refugees living in Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent as part of the family visa, individual sponsor or super sponsor schemes. The team is also supporting the Welsh Government's Welcome Centre in Ebbw Vale.
Nataliya Tatarenko, who is from Ukraine and now helps refugees at the welcome centre, said: "It was good to speak to other Ukrainians who came to Wales through the super sponsorship scheme and are not yet with their sponsor families.
"We shared a nice walk in the park and visited the museum and hopefully we can do something like this again."
Councillor David Davies, Executive Member for Adult Services and Housing, said: "It was fantastic to see people enjoying themselves but it was emotional on times, especially when people from the same parts of Ukraine swapped their experiences of the war.
"It was humbling to listen to the experiences of those individuals and families who have escaped the conflict.
"I would like to thank the team who arranged the event and Torfaen Sports Development, Torfaen Leisure Trust, Torfaen Museum Trust and K-Dee Catering who all offered their support. "
The cohesion team is planning to arrange a second get-together over Christmas.
The Welsh Government's Homes for Ukraine scheme connects families, couples and individuals fleeing the war in Ukraine homes with people in Wales who have offered to be sponsors.
Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor can find information about the scheme and what help and support is available for sponsors on our website.
Helen Jenkins, from Cwmbran, is one of the sponsors in Torfaen. You can hear about her experiences here.