Charlotte on read on Nottingham with Linda Maksymuk, Head teacher of the Ukrainian Language school

Nottingham supports Ukraine refugees

National Literacy Trust appeal to support Ukrainian child refugees in British communities gains support from over 14 partners

The National Literacy Trust has launched a Ukraine Appeal setting out to reach every Ukraine child refugee seeking safety in the UK. Using their existing infrastructure and deep roots in communities, the UK’s leading literacy charity will focus on supporting child refugees and their families as they arrive in the UK and enter the British education system. Initially the charity will provide “welcome packs” to children with free books in English, to not only help with their English language skills so that they can settle into their new community, but to offer emotional support and escapism. It will also fund distributing welcome packs including age-appropriate books and back-to-school stationery.

National Literacy Trust research shows that children who are the most engaged with reading are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than children who are the least engaged. We know from our experience that the right book at the right time can make a world of difference to a child.

Publishing houses from across the country have already donated over 67,000 children’s books for all ages, which are going into welcome packs for families as they arrive in the UK. This list includes 24,000 copies of Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka’s book You Are a Champion. These Welcome Packs will be distributed in areas such Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham, where high numbers of Ukrainian families are expected to arrive.

In Nottingham, the National Literacy Trust’s local Hub Read On Nottingham has been working with the Nottingham Ukrainian Cultural Centre to support local refugee families. The Hub has already donated an initial 80 Welcome Packs of 320 books with assorted stationery, and delivered – supported by Ukrainian Language School teachers at the centre – bilingual storytelling and rhyme sessions for children aged 0-5.

“Books, stories and rhymes have an amazing power to help children feel good, taking comfort in heart-warming tales as they escape into new worlds. We are so glad to be able to provide this support for Ukrainian refugee families arriving in the city. Nothing can reverse the horrors of conflict refugees endure – but we want to do all that we can to help everyone feel welcome and supported in Nottingham.”

Charlotte Malik, Hub Manager for Read On Nottingham

“Books and stationery are always very warmly received by the newly arrived children, as they’re not only useful and practical things to help children get ready for school in the UK, but they also have a huge impact on the children’s mental health as they help to bring back some normality into their lives and remind of the typical routines.”

Lina Maksymuk, Head Teacher of the Ukrainian Language School in Nottingham

“We have a deep reach and strong connections with communities across the country,”

says Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust.

“We knew that this put us in a unique position to use our expertise as a literacy charity to directly support children and families who have arrived in the UK from Ukraine. As our work is place-based and focused in National Literacy Hub areas across the country, we have ready-made network of schools, local charities and businesses, libraries, and support centres that are perfectly placed to reach the families who need our help. We are so grateful to all of our partners for supporting this appeal – whether through donations of books or funding the logistics – which will give the gift of reading to Ukrainian child refugees across the UK.”

The National Literacy Trust’s Ukrainian Appeal supports:

  • Welcome Packs which include age-appropriate books in English and back-to-school stationery. The National Literacy Trust’s teams on the ground, and our partners, will be distributing these books to families that are arriving
  • Community storytelling led by Ukrainian-speaking volunteers to run sessions for refugees and their families

The National Literacy Trust is grateful for the support of WHSmith, who are providing stationery supplies in the Welcome Packs for children joining British schools, as well as the numerous publishers who have donated books and supported the campaign: B-SMALL, Barrington Stoke, Bloomsbury, Bonnier Books, Canongate, Faber, Hachette, HarperCollins, Scribe, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Walker Books.

The National Literacy Trust is continuing to look for corporate sponsors who can fund this targeted and sustained approach to the Ukraine crisis. Their Ukraine appeal urgently needs businesses to donate and support their local communities. For example, a donation of £5000 could change the life story of 500 Ukrainian refugee children by comforting them and their families.

To request a Welcome Pack, use their resources or donate to the appeal, please visit www.literacytrust.org.uk/ukraineappeal.

Posted on 18 July 2022

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Jack Woolley