“March 1is the first day of spring, the beginning of sunshine and renewed hope after the grey and bleak winter. But this is not the case in Ukraine. East Herts Council condemns absolutely these aggressive actions of Putin and our thoughts and support are with the people of Ukraine.
“I doubt if any of us can imagine the horrors of those trying to reach safety and the worry and angst of our residents with relatives or friends in the Ukraine and what they are experiencing. I am the Chair of the East of England LGA and in regular contact with the Regional Strategic Migration Partnership, the SMP, which works with all refugees who come into the East of England region.
“East Herts has welcomed Syrians and we have made homes available for those who fled Afghanistan and we will do the same for those from Ukraine when we are asked. I’d also like to raise something which isn’t getting a great deal of publicity at the moment and that is the medical issues that those fleeing into Poland and other countries are going to be facing.
“The vaccination rates of those in Ukraine is very low, so not only are they having to suffer major traumas both mentally and physically; I do hope that the rest of the world will make available to Poland and surrounding countries, sufficient vaccine levels such that all those who wish to be vaccinated who are fleeing can have a vaccination - at least one two and then three. We do not want to see any further suffering over and above what they are already having to face.
"But what can we do practically? I request that you make monetary donations to the Red Cross or Save The Children or other reputable charities, not clothing or the like.
"And this afternoon I was speaking with a long term resident who was born in Poland but has chosen to make his home here and raise his children here. His family in Poland live very close to the border with Ukraine and he is obviously very distressed.
"But he described what was going on over there. There were lorries queuing up outside community centres, halls and warehouses waiting to be unloaded with stuff - clothes and halls and warehouses waiting to be unloaded with clothes and everything which has already been very generously donated. But there are no volunteers to unload them so that is why I suggest that we all donate money to the Red Cross and other charities actually working on the ground.
"He also told me about a vigil of gathering in Stevenage which is taking place on Friday at 5pm in the Town Square, and he said this is very much another way we can show support to the residents and those who are fleeing.
"I’d also like to propose, and I invite opposition leaders to join with me, in writing to the Ukrainian Ambassador in London expressing our support for his people. And if you are happy with that I will ask for a letter to be drafted and we will put all our signatories on that, so thank you very much indeed.”