Ukraine’s First Lady and King Charles III visit Eparchy’s Ukrainian Welcome Centre

His Majesty The King and The First Lady of Ukraine Mrs Olena Zelenska were welcomed to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile today (Weds 30th Nov) by the Right Reverend Kenneth Nowakowski, bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy (Diocese) of the Holy Family of London.

Bishop Kenneth said:

“The visit of His Majesty The King along with Mrs Zelenska offers a powerful sign of solidarity between the people of the United Kingdom and our sisters and brothers in Ukraine. We are honoured that His Majesty has come back to our Cathedral, and we pray his next visit will be to give thanks for an end to the war – a war that has taken so many innocent lives.”

Bishop Nowakowski assured Mrs Zelenska that each day prayers are offered for the President of Ukraine, its defenders and indeed all of the Ukrainian people during these dreadful times.

His Majesty King Charles III and Ukraine’s First Lady Mrs Olena Zelenska visit Holy Family Cathedral and the Ukrainian Welcome Centre in London

While visiting the Cathedral His Majesty was presented with an icon, a gift from His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The icon was written (painted) featuring the Blessed Theotokos (Mother of God) of Eleousa (Tenderness) by Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofiia Atlantova – Ukrainian iconographers and artists who are founders of the charity project called “Icons on munitions boxes”. The icon is written on fragments of a munitions box brought from the front lines.

The Ukrainian Welcome Centre (UWC) was officially opened by His Majesty who was greeted by a temporarily displaced person from Ukraine and Mr Andriy Marchenko, director of the centre. After being presented with the traditional Ukrainian welcome of Bread and Salt, His Majesty met with staff, volunteers, benefactors, temporarily displaced Ukrainians and their British Sponsors.

“The visit of His Majesty gives a great boost of morale to our staff, volunteers, and all the temporarily displaced Ukrainians who come to the Welcome Centre for help. All those who have been driven from their homes in Ukraine were especially excited about seeing the First Lady of Ukraine here as well,” said Mr Marchenko.

The Ukrainian Welcome Centre was set up to provide guidance and assistance to the temporarily displaced Ukrainians after the first visit of His Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen Consort to the Cathedral at the beginning March 2022 – just after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The Welcome Centre is a partnership initiative between the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London and the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain. This has been supported by the UK Government’s departments and many non-governmental, religious and charity organisations, private sector, and individual sponsors.

Designed to help Ukrainian nationals arriving in Great Britain after being displaced by Russia’s war against their country, UWC is a point of contact for all essential information for arrival, settling and long-term living in the UK as well as a social hub helping Ukrainians stay connected to their culture and heritage.

The Ukrainian Welcome Centre has processed over 4,000 online and telephone requests. More than 450 people have been assisted during the drop-in sessions, many of whom participate in weekly activities such as English courses, art therapy and mother and toddler groups, etc. The Centre is based on the premises of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Mayfair.