Tree marks hand of friendship to Ukraine children

Friday, 3rd June — By Anna Lamche

Corbyn and Ukraine children

Michelline Ngongo with Osap, Jeremy Corbyn, Nikita, Yulia and Denys

FIFTY years from now, children at Christ the King school will play in the shade of an oak tree planted during the war with Ukraine.

At present this oak tree is just a sapling, planted in the Tollington Park school grounds this week as a mark of solidarity with refugees fleeing the war.

So far, almost 300 Ukrainian families have arrived in Islington. More than 500 people from in the borough have expressed interest in hosting a family.

Jeremy Corbyn MP attended the special “planting ceremony” along with Cllr Michelline Ngongo, Islington’s executive member for children, young people and families.

The tree has been donated by Yulia, whose five-year-old son Nikita joined the school in April. Nikita is one of the 50 children to have been enrolled in the borough’s schools since the conflict began.

Families with children at Christ the King have donated uniforms, clothing, toys and a bed to arriving children. One parent created a welcome banner for the school foyer, while the school has given the pupils laptops and dual-language books.

In school, children have learned Ukrainian phrases to welcome the three children. A fourth child is set to join them shortly.

John Lane, the school’s headteacher, said: “The tree will be a permanent reminder at Christ the King of how we helped our friends from Ukraine in their time of need and will forge friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.”

Cllr Ngongo said: “It was heart-warming to hear how the whole school has welcomed these families with open arms and genuine empathy.”

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