UKRAINIAN refugees have been welcomed to Southampton with open arms.

A new group aiming at supporting those who have fled war-torn Ukraine held its launch event in Woolston.

Melanie Tudjaroglu and Kasia Davenport, who are teaching assistants, set up the Southampton Ukrainian Community Support Group in a bid to welcome families to the city.

As reported, the group hopes to support refugees on a one-to-one basis.

Melanie said: "We founded the Southampton Ukrainian Community Support Group for people coming to the city in a bid to help them build their own community."

Kasia, who has also volunteered with the Polish Social Club, added: "We are trying to bring people together and get a support network set up in Southampton.

"We want to give people any support they need.

"Personally, for me when I found out about the Russia and Ukraine situation, I just wanted to do anything I could to help."

Around 50 people, including families with children, arrived at the launch and were greeted by a team of volunteers.

The group was launched on Saturday at the Cricketers Arms on Portsmouth Road in Woolston from 12pm.

The pub was decked out in yellow and blue and there were a number of organisations at the event for new families to speak to.

There were also backpacks full of gifts for children and young people which were put together by the Scouts and Guides.

Leigh Dodds said the backpacks were put together by the scouts and guides for the Ukrainian children as a welcome pack.

As well as this, there was free tea and coffee and children's toys and activities in a bid to encourage children to build bonds. Pets were also welcome.

It was officially opened by the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton, who cut a yellow and blue ribbon in the pub courtyard.

Organisers said they are hoping the group will meet regularly and, eventually, the club will be able to be handed over to the Ukrainians as they build their own community in the city. 

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