A PROJECT bringing Ukrainian refugees and their English friends together is to launch a series of workshops.

We Came from Ukraine – a community project with Weymouth-based AsOne theatre company - is kicking off  its community, storytelling and art therapy project this weekend.

Its aim is to bring Ukrainian parents, their children, and their English best friends together. It is hoped it will reduce a sense of isolation for Ukrainian people, many of whom are scattered across Dorset in rural locations. 

The gatherings in Weymouth are for companionship, relaxation, and to explore their physical and mental journey from Ukraine to south Dorset.

The project is funded by Dorset Community Foundation and Weymouth and Dorchester Town Councils.

The series of workshops on six consecutive Saturday afternoons begins this week at 2pm on Saturday, September 16 at St Aldhelm’s Church Hall, Spa Road, Weymouth.

The first workshop with both children, parents, and friends is collaborating with Ukrainian singer song writer, Slavio Pole and his wife Iryna Viacheslev, a lyricist collecting ideas to create a new song about the parents and children's decisions, experiences, fears and hopes as refugees of war.

On the four following weeks there will be an exciting programme with experienced art therapy professionals.

AsOne’s artistic director, Jane McKell, with 40 years' experience in theatre and education, has written a piece of choral poetry, ‘Rucksack.’

Jane’s poem evokes Ukrainian children leaving their country with little warning. The children will draft their own short poems or prose turning them into mini dramas.

During the following two weeks they will be guided by Brazilian performer and maker, Joel Bernardes with masks, and puppets; and dance, drama, and singing teacher Isabel Amee Berkeley both using the themes of - Migration, Fear, Inclusion, Hope, and Freedom.

Oksana Papeta, AsOne’s assistant director for the project, said: “The adults will be able to chat and learn how to be resourceful, how to help themselves and their children cope with anxiety, uncertainty, and fears.”

Mrs McKell said: “The war in Ukraine is intensifying; an ongoing situation. Many of the families here have men fighting or looking after the elderly left behind.

"The sound of helicopters and planes locally is triggering for some traumatised by the war. Their stories are an important legacy, along with their sponsor hosts and we are gradually documenting them. However, the well-being of the Ukrainian Weymouth and Portland community is our most important mission.”

Any Ukrainian family and their chosen English friends or English children keen to learn about this project should email info@as-onetheatre.co.uk or telephone AsOne theatre company’s AD, Jane McKell on 07778 737700 or turn up and register on Saturday, September 16, 1.30pm for 2 pm, St Aldhelm’s Church, Spa Road, Weymouth, DT3 5EW.