I’m cycling from London to Lviv to show Ukrainians that we haven’t forgotten them
At the time of writing, I have cycled through six countries and have just one more to go – Ukraine. Two weeks ago, I set off on a journey that would take me from Parliament Square to Lviv’s Town Hall. Covering 2,250 km in 14 days.
I’ve had a few bumps and bruises along the way, some small – the constant vibrations in my hands and forearms from badly maintained roads. Some big – my wheels getting caught in tram tracks in Germany causing me to hit the tarmac at 25mph. Cue an ambulance and a 24-hour hospital stay in case of concussion!
These bumps are nothing compared to the struggle people in Ukraine are facing. My colleagues there live under constant threat of danger and still manage to keep showing up to work and delivering projects on time.
Ukraine is littered with landmines, posing danger at every step
I remember the first company team call that was interrupted by an air raid siren. You think of war in Ukraine as being far away, yet here we were sat in London listening to sirens warning of incoming missiles. It made it very present, not least my colleague Rostyk’s immediate response: “I have to go,” followed by his video feed disappearing.
Whenever I’m in Ukraine, people say how much it means that the United Kingdom has supported them. UK-Ukrainian relations have strengthened greatly over the past year. British support has made – and continues to make – a difference. And we need to sustain this.
That is why I’m transporting a letter signed by 130 MPs and peers to be “couriered” to the mayor of Lviv. I carry a message of hope, unity and support from British political leaders showing that this is still an important priority in the UK. I want to corral people who care about what is happening in Ukraine and reinject a sense of momentum (literal and physical) to show our friends in Ukraine that we are still behind them, as much on day 440 as day one.
Ukraine is littered with landmines, posing danger at every step. That’s why I’m raising money for the landmine charity MAG to ensure Ukraine is safe for its people to return to. Landmines are used as a devastating weapon and pose a particular threat to children, so it is important that we work quickly to remove as many as we can. MAG is already working hard in areas Ukraine has won back from Russia, clearing an area up to an estimated 174,000 square kilometres of land mined by Russian forces.
As I’ve cycled through Europe, I’ve passed the remnants of war. The British military cemetery at Dunkirk. A row of pillboxes across a Belgian field. Intermittent bunkers along canals in the Netherlands. These historical artefacts remind us of what once was. If nothing else, they remind us of a generation lost to conflict. Ukraine faces this today, and we – you – can continue doing something about it.
I don’t envy parliamentarians. You have a hard job, which I imagine is often thankless. But I do envy your ability to make a difference. My friends and colleagues in Ukraine are grateful for your collective actions as a Parliament to support them, as am I. It makes me proud to be British.
Insofar as cycling across Europe goes, by the time you are reading this, I should have reached Ukraine and delivered the letter of support signed by 130 MPs and peers to Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv.
I hope to invite him and the Lviv Unbroken rehabilitation team to the UK in the coming weeks. They are in the process of creating a bionic prosthetics centre of excellence in Lviv to deal with the number of maimed civilians and soldiers from the war. If there are organisations with prosthetics or bionic prosthetics expertise in your constituencies, it would be great to hear from you.
Tom Hashemi, CEO of Cast From Clay
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