Ukrainian refugees thank Chester hosts with ‘Big Buffet’ event
A GROUP of Ukrainian refugees who sought safety in Chester after Russia invaded their homeland held an event this month to thank hosts and supporters.
The Wesley Church Center on St John Street saw 85 people attend the ‘Big Buffet’ enjoying a range of traditional hot and cold Ukrainian dishes, cooked by Ukrainians living in the city. They were also treated to a choir from the group of 25 cooks and their children, as well as a quiz and the chance to make friendship bracelets.
Lana Carling, a Ukrainian who has lived in Chester for more than 5 years and helped organize the event, explained the idea: “Since the refugees started arriving, I always heard from them: ‘What can “surrender? We want to say thank you but we have nothing to offer.” The idea for a Ukrainian buffet came to one of the band members.
“She imagined the time after the war, after the victory. She imagined how we Ukrainians greet the British in Ukraine, how we meet them, serve them our traditional food, sing to them and simply hug them. .
“We all thought it was a great idea and it could all be done here in Britain, in Chester. It was a truly heartwarming event that none of us will ever forget. And thanks to Wesley for allowing this to happen.”
The church has hosted weekly Saturday afternoon gatherings for Ukrainian visitors and their guests since May and was the perfect setting for the Sunday August 21 buffet.
Saturday sessions offer guests the opportunity to connect and support each other. A number of Ukrainians already settled in the UK are also present to help with translation and give advice.
The number of Ukrainian guests staying in Cheshire West is approaching 500, and around 250 more have received sponsors but have yet to arrive in the borough.
Reverend Neil Stacey said: “There was a real buzz in the building as people enjoyed the rich hospitality and shared stories of new Ukrainian friends. It was a great celebration of culture and connection, a great thank you all for their hard work.”
Anastasia, one of the cooks, said: “I was delighted with how the festival went. The atmosphere was very warm and welcoming and I’m glad I put my effort into it. a good deed and receive smiles and thanks in return.
“A big thank you to everyone who came to taste Ukrainian cuisine and to those who prepared, served and arranged the dishes!”