A hub to support refugees from Ukraine arriving in Arklow is now open at the Bridgewater Shopping Centre.
t is one of the supports being put in place to help people from Ukraine who come to Arklow.
The new hub at the Bridgewater Shopping Centre opened its doors on Monday, April 4. It is designed to offer information and supports to Ukrainian refugees arriving in south Wicklow. It is located on level 2 of the shopping centre in the old food court area.
One volunteer involved with setting up the Arklow hub said around 12 people helped to prepare the space ahead of its opening on Monday, April 4.
“People are bringing stuff and more donations are coming in. People are always asking ‘what do you need?’ They give what they can, but they want to give more.”
The County Wicklow Partnership liaised with Bridgewater Shopping Centre management, who agreed to allow volunteers working with the Association of Ukranians in Republic of Ireland to set up the hub.
Around 20 volunteers are helping to run the hub. While there are lots of English speaking volunteers, people who speak Russian and Ukrainian are also required to provide information to refugees.
Stephanie Staines, centre manager said “the team at Bridgewater are delighted to be in a position to support the Ukrainians who are seeking refuge in Arklow and surrounding areas”.
Inga Kneiziene is one of the people who are helping with arrangements for the new hub.
She said people have been “very good helping” with donations for people arriving from Ukraine.
Ms Kneiziene, who works at Adrian Dunne Pharmacy, said people have also been dropping donations to the pharmacy to help refugees settle in Arklow.
“People and businesses have been helping so much. Everyone has been helping to set up the hub.”
Businesses in the Bridgewater Shopping Centre and other retailers including McMullans donated clothes rails and other equipment for use in the hub.
It’s understood that 35 refugees from Ukraine arrived on Monday, April 4 in Ireland and are all due for placement at Coral Leisure Centre in Arklow.
Meanwhile, a Facebook group ‘Arklow refugee crisis and how to help’ has also been set up to offer help and support.
Lorraine Farrell said she set up the page as a “way of helping”.
“I know a few members of the Ukrainian community in Arklow and I wanted to do something to help”.
There was a “great response” from the community to the Facebook group which now has over 500 members.
Ms Farrell acknowledged some people are “angry” about the sudden closure of the hall at Coral Leisure Centre to accommodate refugees from Ukraine, but pointed out that it is a “mild inconvenience compared to what they [the refugees] went through”,
Currently, the hub is being organised mainly by Ukrainian volunteers. Anyone interested in getting involved is welcome to visit the hub and complete a form to express their interest in volunteering.
The hub at the Bridgewater Shopping Centre will be open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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