Northumberland town ‘opens arms’ to refugees amid humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

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Police officers in Ashington have been working closely with refugees to help them feel they can call the North East home.

And last weekend doors to the town’s station were thrown open to all members of the public, wishing to meet officers and learn how they can support refugees and keep their community thriving.

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The area is currently home to almost 200 refugees from various parts of the world and it’s part of Neighbourhood Sergeant Kath Smith’s role to make sure displaced families feel welcomed to the community and confident they can always rely on officers for help.

Sgt Smith said: “These families have experienced some of the very worst situations imaginable, often coming from war-torn countries. The North East truly is a sanctuary to them.

“They bring with them knowledge, experience and a variety of skills – some are teachers, others are medical professionals – but they’re unable to complete paid work while they wait for visas.

“Luckily, they have come to the North East, a place that is renowned for being home to some of the nation’s friendliest faces, and there is kindness and good will in abundance.”

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The Ashington Neighbourhood Team set up a tuck shop in February 2020 at the police station and proceeds from the shop, which helps feed many a hungry officer on duty, have been spent aiding the area’s displaced families.

So far money has been used to buy phones for refugees to help them feel safe and less isolated.

Sgt Smith said: “With the world’s eyes on Ukraine currently, it is more important than ever before to show kindness to those who need it most.

“Our open weekend was a good chance for locals to come along and meet officers, raise concerns about anything in the community and learn about all the things we’re doing to make Ashington a thriving place to live for everyone who calls it home, whether it’s been home for two months or 60 years.”

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Support people fleeing the devastating conflict in Ukraine: donate to the DEC appeal

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Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) charities and their local partners are in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries providing food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Learn more and donate what you can today

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