St Barbe Museum in Lymington, in the New Forest district of Hampshire, has set up a new team of volunteers to provide support and to create a network to help refugees arriving from war-torn Ukraine.
The museum will use its position as a charitable hub in the community to provide practical support to those arriving.
Maria Ragan, the director of the museum, and John de Trafford, the chair of the trustees, whose idea it was to set up the team, say that the aim is to partner up with other groups and build on each other’s strengths. St Barbe Museum itself provides a safe, welcoming and supportive community space.
The museum has recruited Jerry Weber as a volunteer project coordinator, with volunteer Lauren Hubbard, supported by De Trafford and Ragan and others in the museum team.
The museum will work with local partners, including the New Forest District Council, schools, voluntary groups and churches to build a network of support to welcome Ukrainian families to the area and provide practical help to them.
Initially, the network will focus on Ukrainians arriving in Lymington and Pennington, but the plan is also to work with other support groups in neighbouring towns or villages and share best practices with them.
“There is a lot of momentum within the New Forest with some very active groups,” said Weber.
Some local individuals have already offered homes to Ukrainians under the government scheme, but the process of pairing hosts with guests and then obtaining visas is slow. The museum encourages potential hosts to get in contact to help with the process of welcoming refugees.
The team has set up a special email address for all enquiries about offering homes or other support services for Ukrainian refugees: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ragan said: “This is an important project for St Barbe. We will use our position as a local community hub to ensure that local people know that there will be total support for our guests from Ukraine, from the local council, schools and other community contacts.
"The museum will be available to our guests for social, cultural and learning support as a safe space available to all.”