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St Helens Borough to host vigil of peace for Ukraine

A vigil of peace for Ukraine will be hosted by St Helens Borough Council on Tuesday 15 March, with residents invited to attend.

Ukraine bridge

Article date: 11 March 2022

The event, prompted by the distressing scenes unfolding in Ukraine, will provide the chance for reflection and collective thought to those currently suffering due to global conflict.

Residents are encouraged to gather on Victoria Square at 6:45pm, with the vigil starting at 7pm. Council Leader David Baines will lead reflections as residents, community leaders, businesses and faith groups gather to show their support.

Ian Umney will speak at the event after escaping Ukraine with his family and returning home to St Helens Borough.

The Thatto Heath resident has lived in Ukraine since 2016 but returned to the borough for work, while his wife Nelia and their two-year-old son remained in Nikopol, a south-eastern Ukrainian town close to the city of Dnipro.

But as the conflict broke out, Ian travelled to Ukraine to reunite with his family, collect supplies and secure their home, before helping them to flee the war-torn country.

Zuza Kubaszczyk, a care worker living and working in St Helens, will share her thanks at the vigil. Originally from Poland, Zuza has been leading an appeal for donations to help the people of Ukraine and was overwhelmed by the local response.

Meanwhile, Kevin Duffy from Rainford-based charity Our Warm Welcome, will speak about the work they do to support and integrate refugees and asylum seekers into St Helens, as the borough stands ready to welcome those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Council Leader Councillor David Baines said: "People across the world have been horrified to see the invasion of Ukraine unfold, the ensuing violence and the destruction left in its wake. And as I knew they would, the people of St Helens Borough have opened their hearts, with appeals and donations by residents and charities getting desperately needed supplies and aid to those suffering in Ukraine.

"Please join us for this evening vigil for peace and show your solidarity with Ukraine."

Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, added: "In St Helens Borough, we have always done what we consider our moral duty to give aid to those suffering and provide a safe and stable home for those fleeing from global conflicts. We stand ready to do so now.

"My thoughts, like so many of us, are with those who have been displaced, injured or taken by the ongoing war. This vigil is a chance for reflection as a community and a demonstration of our prayers for peace, and I hope you can join us."

On the day St Helens Town Hall and the Steve Prescott Bridge will be illuminated in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, as a mark of respect and solidarity.

Free car parking for those attending the vigil will be available on Birchley Street Car Park from 5:45pm.

There are many registered charities helping and supporting those affected by the invasion of Ukraine. Find details of these, and leave a message of solidarity at