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'Liverpool has welcomed us with open arms'

[Press center8] time:2023-05-28 21:26:39 source:ABC News author:Press center2 click:147order

Liverpool has welcomed Ukrainian people "with open arms", a representative for the community and refugees in the city has said.

Anna Ekvist, 36, said it was "heartwarming" to see how the city had embraced her nation's culture ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest.

"Liverpool people have been so friendly and it has had a big impact," she said.

"To see people support and respect our culture, we don't feel so lonely. We feel part of the Liverpool family."

The UK is hosting the international song contest on behalf of Ukraine.

Ms Ekvist has lived in the city for seven years and recalled waking up to 25 missed calls on 25 February 2022 to news Russia had launched a full-scale invasion on the country.

"They all said, 'war is here, shooting is here'," she said.

"I couldn't believe this is going on in my lifetime and I couldn't reach them and felt like there was nothing I could do."

Ms Ekvist now works at the Liverpool Big Help Project as a Ukrainian Engagement Officer, helping support refugees arriving in the city and sending donations from local people to Ukraine.

"We are so pleased to see people support for Ukrainian people in Liverpool," she said.

"It's nice there is so much interest."

She said it was also "really wonderful" to see local people learning the Ukrainian language to be able to have basic conversations with refugees.

"We feel very welcome," she said.

"It is also great to see Ukrainian flags everywhere in the city.

"People are not forgetting why the Eurovision party is here. Some Ukrainian people feel guilty and that they don't deserve to feel happy while people are dying and fighting for freedom in Ukraine, but said it was important for people to continue to have nice things going on."

She added: "It is nice to be able to celebrate and to forget for some moments the terrible things that are happening.

"It is warming up our hearts to see the city is embracing the Ukrainian culture."

She said it was "emotional" to see how many symbols of the nation had been reflected in the city's Eurofest which includes a display of traditional song birds and also the development of a Ukrainian memorial garden.

"We may not be able to go to Ukraine, but pieces of Ukraine can come here."

She said she hopes by hosting Eurovision, Liverpool will have an ongoing relationship with the nation.

"I hope that after the war people will visit Ukraine and see how beautiful country is. I hope our friendship will last forever," she said.

Father Taras Khomych, of the Association of Ukraine in Great Britain - Liverpool Branch, said it was "amazing" to see how the city had stood in solidarity with Ukraine.

The Catholic priest, who has lived in the city for 10 years, said he was "grateful" for the support provided by people in the city and across the UK.

"At the start of the full-scale invasion people in Liverpool contacted me asking how they could help," he said.

He said it was "important" to reflected solidarity with Ukraine and was "delighted" to see Ukrainian culture celebrated in the city.

He added Liverpool had been "warm and welcoming" and the atmosphere in the run up to the Eurovision song contest was "amazing".

"It is unique in that it has never happened before that a country would host the Eurovision on behalf of another," he said.

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(editor-in-charge:Press center8)

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