Vsi Razom welcomed a special guest today (Wednesday 4 October) to showcase how it is making a difference to the lives of local Ukrainian families displaced by conflict.

The Princess of Wales visited the Ukrainian community hub on Wednesday morning, speaking to staff and volunteers as well as families who have been using it for advice, support, and friendship.

During the visit, Her Royal Highness helped to pack goodwill boxes for local families, which provide essentials like toothbrushes and toothpaste, nappies and wipes.

She also spoke to a number of people who provide essential support and advice, including Ashleigh Toomey and Natalia Vil, who set up the hub in Princess Square following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Her Royal Highness also spent time talking to psychologist, Tatiana Sverdlova, who is helping families, specifically children and young people, process their experiences and the impact it has had on their mental health.

The visit by Her Royal Highness coincides with the first anniversary of the hub’s opening. Over the past 12 months it has helped more than 200 people – mostly people from Ukraine who have made Bracknell Forest their home - but also people who have been displaced by other international conflicts.

Natalia and Ashleigh said:

“We were delighted to receive a visit from The Princess of Wales at Vsi Razom in recognition of the services we provide for the people of Ukraine. We would like to thank everyone for their continuing support, Bracknell Forest Council, The Lexicon and the Kerith have been key to our success. We hope this inspires others to donate and raise funds for such an emotional challenge.”

The hub has been supported by The Lexicon and Bracknell Forest Council as well as the Kerith Community Church. It provides a friendly and welcoming place for people to meet socially as well as practical advice and support, including English lessons for foreign nationals and one-to-one appointments with advisors from organisations like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Susan Halliwell, chief executive of Bracknell Forest Council, said:

“What Natalia and Ashleigh have achieved at Vsi Razom is nothing short of amazing. I’m so pleased that they were able to highlight all the important work the hub is doing to support many Bracknell Forest families to The Princess of Wales. Congratulations and thank you for all you do to support so many vulnerable people and welcome them to the borough.”

Rob Morris, general manager of The Lexicon, said:

“We’ve been delighted to support Vsi Razom over the past year – their work is so important to so many people. The centre provides a complete information, knowledge and social hub for people at a time when they really need it. I’m thrilled that Natalia, Ashleigh and all the other volunteers were able to show The Princess of Wales just what a huge difference they’ve made to the town and local community.”