Local support group Swindon Welcomes Ukraine, created to support Ukrainians arriving in Swindon who were displaced by the war, have partnered up with local brewery Hop Kettle. The aim was the production of a new Ukrainian-inspired beer, that launches this Friday, to raise funds for their projects and for the Ukrainian aid charities they support.
It’s been almost a year since the war in Ukraine started and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians began to flee to countries all over Europe and the UK. The UK government quickly set up a Homes for Ukraine Scheme, which saw citizens of the UK offer their spare rooms to Ukrainians under a sponsorship scheme. To date over 350 Ukrainians have arrived in the Borough of Swindon and over 120 people have become hosts of those individuals or families.
Sofiia Volovyk, committee chair said, “it’s been so rewarding to support hosts and Ukrainians now living together. There is still a huge demand for more hosts to come forward and help even more Ukrainians looking to find refuge in the UK.”
The Swindon Welcomes Ukraine committee, made up of both Ukrainians and also hosts, have been running various projects to support the growing Ukrainian community. The committee work closely with Swindon Borough Council’s Warm Welcome team which supports the Ukrainians most immediate needs.
The committee’s projects have included “Bikes for Ukraine’, where over 170 locally donated bikes have been serviced and issued to refugees so they can get access to schools, work and leisure. They have also run weekly meet-ups in partnership with the Pattern Church where Ukrainians can make friends and new contacts.
Kris Talikowski is vice-chair of the committee, “we’ve achieved a great deal in our first 12 months and helped the new community settle into life in Swindon. We’ve been fundraising, so when Hop Kettle reached out to create a batch of a Ukrainian-inspired beer to raise money, we were delighted to work together”.
Ukraine has a large beer brewing industry as they grow a lot of hops. This first batch with Hop Kettle has used flavours of honey in the brew (a national flavour), and also sunflower (seeds), which have become a symbol for Ukrainians.
Andrew Fisher from the Hop Kettle said, “we wanted to do our bit to help the growing community of Ukrainians in Swindon feel welcome, and our small microbrewery at the back of the Tap & Brew in Old Town was perfect for this first small batch brew. If this goes down well, we will lean to our bigger Hop Kettle brewery in Cheney Manor to produce a larger batch we can sell on a wider scale to help raise funds.”
The first brew is being launched at a “first pour” event on Friday 24th February at 6pm at the Tap & Brew on Devizes Road in Old Town. Proceeds from each pint will go to Swindon Welcomes Ukraines activities, and donations will also be made to Ukrainian aid charities.
The beer will be called “Volya”, which means “Freedom" in Ukrainian, and whose letters appear on the trident symbol on the flag of Ukraine.
Committee member Viktoria Zavalntuk commented, “we are so pleased to be able to do something so positive on the anniversary of something so terrible. It’s been a challenging time to leave the country we love and move to England but I feel so welcomed by my hosts and by the people of Swindon that I wanted to join the committee to help even more of my fellow Ukrainians.”
You can find out more about the committee’s work at ukraineswindon.com
Image: Ieva Delininkaityte (left) and Yana Shatoka (right).