SALVATION Army volunteers from Winton have spent 20 years raising money for the poor of Ukraine.

And they are to mark the anniversary with an ambitious, £45,000 mission to help in some of the country’s most deprived areas.

Dave Ramsay, deputy bandmaster at Winton Salvation Army, established the Vision of Hope Ukraine Mission in 1994, after Bournemouth Salvation Army played host to a visiting choir from Moscow. They initially got involved with providing instruments for a music school.

In the intervening years, the mission has run children’s clubs and foot care services, supported feeding programmes for the elderly and helped renovate orphanages, TB sanatoriums, old people’s homes and Salvation Army social centres.

“The Winton Corps have been fantastic in supporting the mission,” said Dave.

“The community centre in Winton is really thriving and a lot of things we do in the centre have been taken over to Ukraine, like foot care and assisted bathing.”

This year, they will help with a kids’ club in Dnipropetrovsk and a building project at the Salvation Army Social Centre in Mayak, the poorest area of Kiev.

They will also be working on a social project in Poroshova, a small town of Romany gypsies in the Carpathian mountains, where the team will provide social care to the community and activities for over 200 children.

“As in our country, the Roma gypsies are shunned by society,” said Dave.

The mission will cost around £45,000, with each team member responsible for raising at least £700.

Ukraine is going through political and social turmoil, with the government cracking down on protesters demanding it aligns more closely with the EU rather than Russia.

Dave said many parts of the country remained very poor. “There have been improvements but it’s all on the surface. The ordinary people are really struggling, especially at the moment with the demonstrations,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of young people who’ve gone and it’s no exaggeration to say it’s changed their lives because it’s put everything into perspective for them.”

  • A fundraising concert for the Vision of Hope Ukraine Mission will be held at 7pm on Saturday March 1 at the Winton Corps of the Salvation Army.

It will feature the Bournemouth Area Fellowship Band; the Dance Group of the Winton Corps; Ross and Fiona Mercer of Boscombe Corps and the International Staff Songsters; and the euphonium soloist John Starkes of Boscombe Salvation Army and Woodfalls Brass Band.

Tickets cost £4 from Winton Salvation Army or by ringing 01202 517989.