Café to support Ukrainian refugees opens on war anniversary

published on 20 Feb 2023

Sunflower Hub and Cafe in Scarborough

A café to support Ukrainian refugees and the local community will open at Scarborough Salvation Army on Friday 24 February where there will also be a Remembrance Service to mark exactly a year since the outbreak of war.

The Sunflower Café and Hub at the church and charity in Alma Parade aims to provide a home from home for people who have fled the war in their homeland.

The hub has been open for a few weeks offering support to more than 50 Ukrainian refugees so far including help with learning English, accessing training and navigating healthcare and school systems. The newly opened café will give people the chance to socialise and make friends with fellow refugees and the local community.

To mark a year since the war started, there will also be a gathering in the town centre at 4.40pm followed by a Remembrance Service at The Salvation Army at 6pm. All are welcome.  

We’ve already seen a big uptake, this has become a place they can gather and feel safe.
Major Stephen Noble

Major Stephen Noble, who leads Scarborough Salvation Army with his wife Captain Angela, said: “The hub launched a few weeks ago with the Scarborough Sunflower Appeal, a group who have been helping Ukrainians. We’ve already seen a big uptake, this has become a place they can gather and feel safe.

“A big part of what we are trying to do is aid integration, not only helping refugees with navigating how to access healthcare, schools, training and jobs, but building relationships with the local community. Now we have the café open and have staff in place, we will be able to offer traditional Ukrainian food as well as hot drinks, somewhere warm to sit and conversation.

“We have also had new volunteers come to support this project, which has been brilliant to see. People want to help.

“It’s awful to think the war has been going on for a year now and there is no sign of it coming to an end. The people we meet are devastated because they do not know when they will be going home. Most are women and children whose husbands have had to stay behind to fight, it’s a terrible situation, however they maintain hope and want to do what they can to bring peace to their country. They are in our thoughts and prayers all the time.”

As part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Scarborough has hosted around 140 Ukrainians with many living with a sponsor. As the war continues to rage, those sponsorships are coming to an end meaning families need help to find more permanent accommodation.

Captain Angela and Major Stephen Noble
Captain Angela and Major Stephen

Iain Butterworth, who runs the Scarborough Sunflower Appeal and has been helping co-ordinate sponsors, said: “We are grateful to The Salvation Army for setting up this space where we can try and help as many people as possible. There are lot of issues to overcome including finding sponsors for families still in Ukraine, sorting visas and new homes for people whose sponsorships have ended. Due to a shortage of accommodation, at the end of the sponsorship period many could be put in temporary accommodation such as hotels or placed in rural locations away from schools which is causing difficulties.

“Mental health is also a big issue. People have arrived here distressed leaving behind family members, many not knowing the language and trying to navigate systems that are completely different to how they are in Ukraine, it’s taking a toll on them so we are trying to do all we can to help.”

Iryna, who fled Ukraine with her children and is now teaching English from the Sunflower Hub which she helps run with Inna, said “We never thought we would be in a situation where we had to leave our homes like this and settle into a new country. People have been so supportive and we want to say thank you for welcoming us to your country.

“We just want to do something useful while we are here and help people and help our country until we have peace.”

The café is open every Friday between 10am and 1pm while the Hub runs every Friday between 12pm and 2.30pm.

If you would like to volunteer or find out more visit Scarborough Salvation Army here or search for them on Facebook.

A Salvation Army Officer sitting and speaking with an older gentleman with a long silver beard.

Support our work

Winter is the cruellest time for many homeless people, but with your support we can transform countless lives.