The Cork-based Greater Chernobyl Cause has worked in Ukraine for more than 25 years. Its head Fiona Corcoran suggests practical ways we can help refugees when they arrive here
Do you think the Ukrainians will settle well here?
Yes I think so. They have a good Ukrainian community around them and the Irish have a very positive attitude towards them in general. But they’ll need help learning English, otherwise the Ukrainian refugees will tend to just mix with each other.
How should we prepare for them in our homes to make it as easy as possible for them?
Learn some phrases in Ukrainian, but also help them to learn English. This can be a focus during the day, working on English and getting the Ukrainian people to teach their hosts Ukrainian.
Also, perhaps find out about some Ukrainian dishes so that they can cook meals for you and feel useful in the home, and they won’t feel like they are a burden. Perhaps bring the mothers along on shopping trips so they can pick out the items that they need and become confident with money and shopping etc. It would also be important to set up a structured routine for the day, but without imposing it. Give the family choices. If they would like to know about Ireland, show them maps and tell them about counties etc. concentrating on Cork in particular. Bring them to nice places such as beaches with picnics, woods for walks so that they get to know about their area.
Particularly what can we do for the children?
Set up some play dates, perhaps inviting a couple of mothers also, to get the children and mothers ready for school and help get the mothers involved in the school community. Maybe set up meetings with the new teachers who will be very happy to help. Use Google translate, and this could be done in picture form for younger children.