This week, I want to focus on a single subject.
Tomorrow, Friday 24 February, is the first anniversary of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Tens of thousands have lost their lives and millions have been displaced, forced from their homes because of Russia’s greed and indiscriminate attacks on towns and cities. The occasion will be marked by a minute’s silence at 11am on Friday. We will also be flying the Ukrainian flag over the Council House.
In the midst of this most dreadful conflict, we have also seen some of the very best that the human spirit can offer. The fortitude of Ukrainians as they fight for their lives, their homes, and their freedom has been inspiring. The response from the UK, US, and other allies to give them the support they need to keep fighting has been excellent, and the promises that it will continue as long as is necessary are welcome.
We have, of course, also seen generosity and solidarity on a local and individual level, as people have given generously to charitable appeals, travelled to Ukraine on humanitarian missions (where 8 British citizens have sadly lost their lives) and many have opened their homes to some of the millions of Ukrainians who were forced to flee the fighting. At least 260 have been welcomed by Solihull residents, and I am eternally grateful to those people for all they have done.
They have been ably supported by many people at the Council but on this occasion, I will single someone out for special praise. Dajana Vasilj, our New Communities and Resettlement Lead, was given the Mayoral Award for Outstanding Service to the Public at Solihull Council’s staff awards last week. This special award was prompted by compliments received from members of the public about the work she had done in her role supporting our residents and their Ukrainian guests, and I’d like to publicly thank her for that work here.
I hope that this time next year, I’ll be able to write a positive message. One that celebrates Ukrainian’s successful defence of their country. If that cannot be the case, then I know that our support, our friendship, and our human compassion for the people of Ukraine will be as strong then as it is now.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council