As the UK reflects on the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, Leeds City Council extends its gratitude to the people of Leeds for their unwavering support and issues a plea for additional assistance.

Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council said: “From the outset, we in Leeds have condemned Russia’s devastating and senseless war in Ukraine.

“On this, the second anniversary of the invasion, we are taking the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine and our solidarity with its people. We are especially thinking of our friends in the city of Kharkiv, with whom we recently signed a Friendship Oath. We hope that peace can soon be achieved.

“As a city, we are proud to have a long history of offering humanitarian support and I continue to be humbled and proud of the many people across the city who have opened their hearts, homes, and communities to those in need of our assistance, whether they be from Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan or anywhere else.

“Thank you to everyone for your support.”

The Leeds community has actively supported those affected by the war since March 2022. The council, in collaboration with refugee charities and third-sector organizations, initiated a citywide fundraising appeal, raising over £150,000 to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and aid those settling in Leeds.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, underscored solidarity by signing a Friendship Oath with Kharkiv in December 2023. The agreement, marking the start of a deeper relationship, follows efforts to support Kharkiv residents. Councillor Garthwaite visited Kharkiv last summer with an aid convoy and has since run appeals for donations.

Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Leeds has welcomed over 900 Ukrainian guests fleeing the conflict, but the council emphasizes the ongoing need for support. Councillor Mary Harland, Executive Member for Communities, acknowledges the tremendous response but urges more hosts to come forward.

Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council executive member for communities, said: “The response to the Homes for Ukraine scheme in Leeds has been truly magnificent, and we appreciate and thank those people who have already opened their homes to Ukrainian guests.

“But as the war continues into a third year and Ukrainian guests continue to arrive in the city, we need more help to house both new arrivals and those who are already here.

“Hosting can be a rewarding experience for both host and guest, and our dedicated Homes for Ukraine team will be happy to support you throughout your hosting journey.

“There are also financial benefits to becoming a host, with a tax-free payment of up to £500 per month which has now been extended for up to three years. In addition, hosts will continue to receive any council tax reductions they already receive, can ask for a contribution to household energy costs, and are not expected to buy food for their guests.

“If you think you can help, or just want to find out more information, please contact the Homes for Ukraine team who will be glad to speak to you.”

To mark the anniversary, civic buildings in Leeds will be illuminated in blue and yellow on Saturday. The Lord Mayor will attend a commemoration event on February 24 at St Anne’s Cathedral, Cookridge Street, LS2 8BE, organized by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain and Leeds Ukrainian Community Association. For more information, contact leeds@augb.co.uk. The council encourages those interested in hosting to contact the Homes for Ukraine team for further information.