Former boxer and Mayor of Kyiv Vitaly Klitschko praises Birmingham & the West Midlands - here’s why

Birmingham and the West Midlands has received praise from former world heavyweight boxing champion and Mayor of Kyiv Vitaly Klitschko in a letter to our Mayor Andy Street

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West Midlands Mayor has received a letter from former world heavyweight boxing champion and current Mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko, praising Birmingham and the wider region for welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

Mayor Klitschko announced his praise on the anniversary of the Homes for Ukraine scheme - just a year after the first anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion. As of February 2023, 1,663 Ukrainian refugees had found a host family in the West Midlands under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Across the UK, more than 110,000 have arrived. The vast majority of those are women and children.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was set up on 14March 2022 and allows Ukrainians to live, work, study in the UK and access public funds. It is one of the fastest and largest visa programmes in UK history. Here are the number of arrivals in the West midlands by sponsor location:

  • Birmingham 767
  • Coventry 280
  • Solihull 239
  • Sandwell 109
  • Wolverhampton 90
  • Dudley 90
  • Walsall 88

In his letter Mayor Klitschko wrote: “Allow me on behalf of Kyiv and the Ukrainian nation to express our highest consideration to you and all the officials and residents of the West Midlands for your consistent support of Ukraine.

“It is the support of our friends for the citizens in need, both who took refuge in your towns and cities of the West Midlands, and those who are weathering all the challenges at their homes in Kyiv, that help us see who our true friends are, and our friendship is only growing stronger due to your actions.”

He added: “With the Homes for Ukraine scheme nearing its 1-year anniversary I would like to stress the value of people in the UK… understanding the importance of further support of Ukraine and its citizens. As only by defending our common democratic values to the very end, can we succeed in calling ourselves free.”

Former boxer and Mayor of Kyiv Vladimir Klitschko Former boxer and Mayor of Kyiv Vladimir Klitschko
Former boxer and Mayor of Kyiv Vladimir Klitschko

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “From aid to providing sanctuary, the UK has helped to lead the way when it comes to international support for Ukraine. Thousands of local people right across the West Midlands have contributed to this effort.

“When this tragic conflict does finally come to an end – and peace and freedom is restored - I hope to work with fellow regional leaders like Mayor Klitschko to develop closer trade and cultural ties in the months and years ahead.”

The UK Government will be marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme throughout March. They have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the scheme and encourage more hosts to come forward to support rematching of guests who need somewhere safe to stay during their time here in the UK.