APPEAL Lily Luzan from the Candle of Grace charity, pictured here with Marie Collum, organising the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Ukraine, has appealed to Mayo people to provide accommodation to Ukrainian refugees. Pic: Karen Cox
A Mayo charity working with Ukranian refugees says many more families fleeing conflict will arrive in Mayo in the coming days. It is urging the local community and politicians to do everything possible to welcome them warmly.
Lily Luzan of Candle for Grace says Mayo people are extremely helpful and welcoming, but stresses the provision of accommodation for Ukranian families needs urgent attention.
“We had a list of families willing to take in refugees for a few nights, but now people realise this is going to be more long-term and we do not have many options now,” she explained.
“These people are in absolute shock. They were living normal lives, then the war came and they were living under the bombs. They had to get out quickly and leave their whole lives behind. They are in shock, and it will take time for that to be okay.
“They want to work and pay their way here, and they want to do that immediately, but it will take some time to get PPS numbers and things like that, so nothing will happen overnight.”
‘Kindness and understanding’
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne is working with Ms Luzan to try to streamline the integration of the refugees into local society. He was present on Sunday afternoon to welcome families to west Mayo and said the proper supports must be put in place as quickly as possible.
“There are many aspects to this. First of all, the families are safe, which is the primary objective, but then we need to house them and help them settle into our society.
“Other things such as recognition of qualifications need to be streamlined in order for extremely talented people to take up employment and be of huge benefit to Mayo,” he stated before Lily Luzan took up the story again.
“The arrival of refugees is very welcome but we urgently need to find places for them to stay until they get on their feet,” she said. “People opening up their homes to families in need is what real charity is about, and we have so many good people wanting to help – but think twice before offering help.
“It is better to say ‘no’ than give false hope. All the mothers and kids are in shock and they need a little kindness and understanding. We are not asking you to give up your homes, but to share one or two of your bedrooms until these good people find their way.
“Joseph and Mary and the donkey needed help one time and we’d all like to think we’d have helped them.”