The Princess of Wales visited the Reading Ukrainian Community Centre to meet displaced Ukrainian families and heard about the support the Centre is providing to those arriving in the UK as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
The Reading Ukrainian Community Centre houses the Berkshire branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), the largest representative body for Ukrainians and those of Ukrainian descent in the UK.
Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine earlier this year, the Community Centre has pivoted its activities to support Ukrainians arriving in the UK, whilst also delivering medical equipment and humanitarian aid to those on the frontline. Work being carried out for the Ukrainian community in Reading has included the delivery of educational classes for children, and the implementation of weekly coffee mornings at the Centre to provide practical advice and support around topics such as employment and housing. The sessions also help to establish and solidify social connections and a sense of community, which have been proven to be a vital foundation for positive mental wellbeing.
During her visit, The Princess heard more from the Centre’s volunteers about how they have adapted their services in recent months, and how this has helped displaced families as they settle into life in the UK. Her Royal Highness also met with families who are supported by the Centre to hear their stories, before joining children taking part in an art session. Delivered on a monthly basis, the art workshops help to provide a way for the children to have fun, build friendships and express their emotions and experiences through a creative outlet.
Her Royal Highness’ visit follows a virtual roundtable meeting, convened by The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales, which took place last week to provide advice and share best practice to help support the First Lady of Ukraine’s mental health strategy, which was announced in August to address the impact the ongoing conflict is having upon the mental wellbeing of Ukrainians.
Bringing together experts and individuals working in the mental health sector in the UK, alongside representatives from the office of The First Lady’s and The Royal Foundation, the meeting covered a range of topics including learnings from the UK on changing conversations and reducing stigma on a national level, and lessons from the delivery of support for specific groups such as children and veterans. The group also discussed the mental health support currently available for Ukrainians living in the UK.
The roundtable follows several visits over the past six months by The Prince and Princess of Wales which have highlighted the plight of people in Ukraine and the generous support that communities and organisations across the UK have offered in response. The Royal Foundation will continue to provide advice and support for The First Lady’s work on mental health over the coming months.