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Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Skates meets refugees set to sing with Eisteddfod choir

* Polina Horelova, Volodymyr Horelova, Ken Skates MS, Jane Townend and Vitalii Matashko.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates has promised to open "every possible door" to refugees settling in North Wales at the start of a huge week for Wrexham-based charity UareUK -  United to Assist Refugees UK.  

The charity has a hub which supports refugees from Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries based in Wrexham.  

Mr Skates met with the founder of the charity Jane Townsend and refugees Polina Horelova, Volodymyr Horelova and Vitalii Matashko at the start of Llangollen Eisteddfod week to offer help and advice to the inspirational charity.

On Wednesday, refugees from their hub will be performing as part of a mass choir at the White Flower peace concert at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.  

Mum-of-four Polina and her family are from Mariupol. She is conducting the traditional Ukrainian folk piece River Song.   

Members of the hub will also take part in the Eisteddfod’s Parade of Nations in Llangollen on Thursday from 4.30pm and will be hosting a stall on the maes throughout Eisteddfod week to raise money and awareness of the vital work they do.  

Estate agents Wingetts, based in Castle Street, will also be accepting donations for the hub.

Jane Townsend said: “We are incredibly excited and have a busy week in Llangollen. 

"We were pleased to meet Ken Skates, who was hugely supportive of the work we are doing for so many displaced communities.  

"He will be helping us moving forward and will open doors for us to continue doing our critical work. 

"This week is a huge week for us – we will be based on the maes at the isteddfod and can’t wait for the parade of nations.  

"The Llangollen Eisteddfod is a peace festival and the fact that Polina is conducting one of the songs of the mass choir is amazing. We will be using the event to continue to raise awareness of the consequences of the war and the work we do from North Wales and the borders.” 

Ken Skates said: “Jane leads an amazing organisation that makes such a positive difference to so many lives.  We are so proud that they are based in North Wales. 

"It was emotional hearing their experiences and, as a member of the Senedd, I will continue issues at the highest level, open every possible door and see how we can do more to help.   

“We are proud in North Wales to host some amazing people who are going through horrific circumstances.  I am looking forward to visiting them again during Eisteddfod week

"UareUK play a major part in sending a clear message that refugees are welcome in Wales.  I will do everything possible to raise awareness of the brilliant work they do.”

Whilst Polina is preparing with New Sinfonia and the mass choir performing at the Eisteddfod, her husband Volodymyr continues to make regular trips back to Ukraine with aid.  

UareUK are asking specifically for protein bars, wooden cutlery, paper plates, power banks, water purification tablets and unlocked phones as many people lost theirs in the floods and have no means of contact.  

The emptying of Kakhovka reservoir has left tens of thousands of people in southern Ukraine without access to piped water, mainly in the Dnipro region.  This is where Vitalii Matashko, currently based in Llangollen, is from.

Vitalii, whose family currently live in Llangollen can often been seen around town wearing a donated Cefn Druids tracksuit top.  

He said: “We have been amazed by and are extremely grateful to the Llangollen community for hosting us.  The flooding where I am from is devastating and we have sent back as much aid as we can, all donated by the people of North Wales.   

"Please try and make a small donation, especially during Eisteddfod week – it will make more of a positive difference than you know.”

* People can still get tickets for the White Flower concert on Wednesday, 5th July at

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