A humanitarian hub has been set up at London Luton Airport to provide practical support for air passengers arriving from war-torn Ukraine.
Organised by Bedfordshire’s Local Resilience Forum which brings together partners such as local authorities, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, emergency services, the charity and voluntary sector and the airport, the hub operates by providing a warm welcome to those suffering the trauma of being uprooted from their homeland.
At the hub arrivals are greeted by volunteers from the Bedfordshire and Luton Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee, British Red Cross and the Airport Chaplaincy.
Paramedics from the Hearts First Ambulance Service are also on hand to provide mental and physical health support information.
A whole array of advice, information and useful contact numbers from local and national agencies is available for the arrivals, many of whom are bewildered and confused by recent events and facing a very uncertain future.
Whole families are arriving and children in particular are comforted, not just to see the familiar colours of the Ukrainian flag in the reception area, but to see some heart-felt artwork designed by Luton’s Surrey Street Primary, Cardinal Newman Catholic and Queen Elizabeth schools.
Councillor Aslam Khan, Deputy Leader, Luton Council, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those suffering in Ukraine, and alongside those who have fled their homeland as well as friends and family here in Bedfordshire and across the world.
“Once again Luton and the wider region has stepped up to the plate at a moment of great crisis and deep tragedy.
“In a short space of time many different organisations have come together and been working around the clock to provide a warm welcome and practical support to those whose lives have been violently disrupted by the Russian invasion of their country.
“As it did when establishing a testing site during the Covid pandemic, London Luton Airport has underlined its role as our community airport by hosting this vital point of refuge.
“Luton’s and Bedfordshire’s “can do” attitude is very much in evidence and I am truly humbled to witness the sacrifice so many are continuing to make to show Luton will always stand alongside the troubled and afflicted of this world.”
Alberto Martin, CEO at London Luton Airport said: “As an international airport we help to connect cultures, places and people, so it has been heart breaking to witness events unfold in Ukraine.
“We are proud of the support we provide to our communities and are glad we can play a small part in ensuring a warm welcome to Ukrainian families as they arrive in the UK”.
Amanda Carcary, senior emergency response officer for the British Red Cross in Bedfordshire, said: “Kindness is so vital when people arrive in the UK after an experience like this, which is why our teams are trained to give emotional support as well as help people with practical things.
“We know that people are leaving family behind in Ukraine and enduring long, cold journeys to get to safety, so we are here to offer them a warm welcome. We have Ukrainian-language welcome packs with key information about life in the UK.”