Hackney community gathers in solidarity with Ukraine

People at the vigil light candles in the shape of the international peace sign. Pic: Giannino Arrigoni

Hackney residents together with community and faith leaders braved the rain to show solidarity with people in Ukraine in a candlelit vigil organised by the Salvation Army on Tuesday evening.

The vigil on Lower Clapton Road took place on the same evening during which dozens of diplomats walked out during Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s speech at the United Nations in Geneva to protest Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Salvation Army is currently providing support to people in Ukraine with their personnel on the ground and in neighbouring countries.  

A candle at the event. Pic: Giannino Arrigoni

“We want peace, we want love, we want humanity”

The evening began with an in introduction by Captain Ben Cotterill, one of the event’s organisers, and a musical tribute. It was then followed by words from the Salvation Army affiliates including Counsellor Ian Rathbone, Councillor Sade Etti, the reverends Andrew Letby of the Methodist Church, and Andrew Wilson of the Church of England. 

“We want peace, we want love, we want humanity,” said Counsellor Etti in her opening speech.

People reunite in a moment of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Pic: Giannino Arrigoni

Councillor Rathbone thanked the community for coming out in the rain and for the groups who sang songs of faith for the crowd. He then directed attention to the efforts being made in the area to provide relief for displaced people across Ukraine.  

Captain Ben Cotterill (right) speaking at the candlelit event. Pic: Giannino Arrigoni

He urged people to keep donating to the local donation hub, the E5 baby and children bank whose lorries will leave for Poland next week. The hub, which is based in Clapton and Hoxton, said the volume of donations has been ‘overwhelming’. 

“Today we say glory to Ukraine… Slava Ukraini!” 

Steve Burnett, a member of The Salvation Army who has friends currently in Kyiv, said at the event: “Next week it’s going to be minus eight [in Kyiv]… there’s going to be children out there on the streets…and I moan tonight about the rain”

“Today we say glory to Ukraine… Slava Ukraini!” 

Before leaving, the community was invited to write words of solidarity with those suffering on a table display which was then lit up with dozens of candles forming the peace symbol.  

“May peace & justice reign in our hearts & in our world,” read one message. Another simply read “Slava Ukraini”. 

“I’m safe… people are dying in Ukraine. It just shouldn’t be happening,” Minister of the Salvation Army Ruth Gray told ELL.

Apart from their personnel in Ukraine, the Salvation Army also has teams in The Czech Republic, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to provide living essentials, temporary accommodation, relief packages and emotional support.  

To make a donation, visit the group’s website.

Attendees at the vigil lighting candles in a solemn moment of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Pic: Giannino Arrigoni

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