Birmingham holds vigil in solidarity with the people of Ukraine

Saturday’s rally saw 1,000 residents come together in condemnation of Russia’s invasion

On Saturday, a vigil was held in Birmingham City Centre to show solidarity with Ukraine.

The event comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday.

Around 1,000 people attended the gathering, held in Victoria Square.

Joining the vigil were Ukranian people who have moved to the Midlands after fleeing the country, as well as British residents with family and friends still in Ukraine.

People gathered in Victoria Square, central Birmingham with banners, placards, flags displaying words including “We Stand With Ukraine” and “Stop Putin, Stop War”. Attendees held phone torchlights to show their support for the people of the war-torn nation and silence was observed. Amazing Grace was sung to the crowd by David Kettle, whose partner is from Ukraine, whilst other Ukrainians sung traditional folk songs.

The rally was held on a day that saw further dramatic developments in the Russia Ukraine tensions, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering nuclear deterrents to be put on high alert by Russian military forces. 

West Midlands mayor Andy Street was in attendance, as was Birmingham’s social inclusion, community safety and equalities cabinet officer, John Cotton. He addressed the crowd, saying: “Birmingham and all its communities stand in solidarity with the people of the Ukraine, in the face of this tyrannical and brutal invasion.

“And as a city of sanctuary, we stand ready to help those who are fleeing, but it’s incumbent on the government to act now to endure safe routes for refugees to reach the UK.”

Councillor John O’Shea added: “I’m here to stand up in solidarity with the people of the Ukraine.

“This is what we can do. What we need to see from the government are proper easy legitimate safe routes for refugees to come to the UK. It’s unBritish if we don’t.”

Ukranian Kateryna Trokhymchuk, 23, who now lives in Telford, told Birmingham Live: “We are waiting on Boris to bring them here, it’s a waiting game.

“Our family and friends are dying. If you don’t understand what is happening, please research and educate yourself. Use the anger and power you have. The truth will always win,” she said.

The vigil also saw the collection of hundreds of donations, including clothes, shoes, food and medicine, organised by 20-year-old Angelika Frankowska, who is from Ukraine and has family out there.

Condemning Putin’s invasion, Natasha Wilson, originally from Russia but who now lives in Moseley told the crowd: “I don’t know a single person back in Russia who supports Putin.

“Everybody back in Russia is feeling shocked and here too. We’re in a state of shock.

I had to make a speech today because, as a decent Russian, we have to feel a sense of responsibility. There is some sort of collective shame. I love the Ukraine, I’ve been there many times and I know the city that my mother grew up, is being bombed. I’m half-Ukrainian.”

Representatives of the Birmingham Guild of Students are in talks with other student unions to organise a student gathering in solidarity with Ukraine. Guild President Mikey Brown told The Birmingham Tab: “The officer team are also discussing the Ukraine situation at their meeting today.”

Ways you can help the people of Ukraine include remaining informed on the situation and vigilant about information shared on social media, donating money to verified organisations and providing supplies for Ukrainian residents. For more information about how you can get involved, click here.  

All images via @tomeephoto. 

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