County Council chiefs are spearheading vital work to make sure Leicestershire is prepared to welcome and support Ukrainian refugees when they arrive here.
The local authority is working flat out as over two million people have already fled Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Shell-shocked Ukrainian people are flooding into neighbouring eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungry and Moldova as well as seeking safe havens in western Europe and the UK.
County council leader Nick Rushton said he wants to ensure that “Leicestershire is ready, willing and able to give assistance to any Ukrainian refugees fleeing President Vladimir Putin’s forces”.
The British Government has extended a scheme to issue more visas to Ukrainians with relatives in this country.
And more details are awaited of a ‘community sponsorship’ scheme which will support the arrival of others seeking refuge.
Cllr Rushton said: “The Prime Minister believes more than 200,000 people could come to the UK, therefore it is certain some will head to Leicestershire and the East Midlands region, joining their friends and families.
“We must be ready to help them.”
The council has asked the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to set up a Ukrainian Refugees Group to help resettle refugees and deal with the challenges caused by them being forced to flee their war-torn country.
The new Leicestershire group will meet today (Friday) for the first time to co-ordinate action to help Ukrainians.
The group is made up of the nine Leicestershire local authorities, including Harborough District Council, and Rutland County Council, the police and fire services.
It also features NHS representatives, charities such as the British Red Cross and Government officials from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The county council is also gearing up to play its part by helping find school places for children as well as supporting new arrivals with social care.
"We haven’t been given firm details about numbers of Ukrainian refugees coming here but we, as a council, and all our partners, must be ready to help them in every way they need.
"That’s why we have mobilised this resilience forum group early on.
"We are expecting mainly women and children who will have experienced terrible violence, trauma and disruption to their lives and they will need a lot of support,” added Cllr Rushton.
"We will need proper Government support to make sure they get all the help and support they require.
“It is morally the right thing to do.
“I’ve already had lots of emails from ordinary people pledging their help and support, such as the offer of a spare room.
"It’s wonderful that, once again, Leicestershire people are showing their generosity and willingness to help those in desperate need."
"The LRF group will coordinate efforts and consider how to best help Ukrainians who are fleeing Putin the dictator’s war on their country.
"It’s the very least we can do to assist those in a very desperate situation."
The Government has also set up a website to advise people how they can make donations and apply to sponsor refugees from Ukraine.
You can visit it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukraine-what-you-can-do-to-help