Ukrainian refugees and their hosts across the South Lakes have been invited to an event to welcome them to the region and to make social connections.

Minister of Gateway Church Jonny Gios is behind the 'welcome meal' at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal, who is sponsoring the event, and has invited all Ukrainians and hosts across South Cumbria to make acquaintances, exchange advice, and swap phone numbers.

Jonny, who was recently part of an aid mission to the Ukraine/Romania border, said he realised that there was no co-ordinated effort to welcome the refugees who had been placed across a wide area, and wants to help.

"In Romania, we held a welcome meal for Ukrainians that had come over the border - which was a very successful event, with 60 people, and when I came back, I thought we must do that here in the South Lakes," he said.

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"There are people being placed all over the region - some have had very generous offers from people offering their house, or holiday homes in Ambleside or Grange for example for a year - the only problem is they have no host to help them with shopping, transport, challenges like that.

"So on Sunday, June 12 from 2pm until 5pm, we are hosting a welcome meal at the Castle Green Hotel - the hotel has kindly given us 30 free places for Ukrainians and their hosts, and the whole idea of this event is for Ukrainians to meet Ukrainians and hosts to meet hosts.

"I just wanted to get the message out there that as many people know about this event as possible. 

"They can sign up here on the Gateway Church Facebook event so we know how many people are coming.

"Obviously we've got 30 free places but I'd love to see 50 to 60 people there so we have to find some funding to pay £12.50 per person.

"It's a very generous offer from the hotel but we are hoping for more to attend, to come together from all across the South Lakes, from different towns and villages in Ukraine, or from different towns and villages here - that's the vision I'm hoping to achieve.

"I'd like to call out to anyone, businesses or individuals, that want to get involved and support this effort for Ukrainians to feel welcome and integrated in the South Lakes."

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