A KENDAL church has stepped up its quest to bring comfort and aid to those who need it most with a mission to Eastern Europe to help poverty-stricken villages and those fleeing from war.

A team of six from Gateway Church, led by Jonny Gios, returned from carrying out a week-long programme of community work in rural Romania on Monday.

A team from the church travelled last year to connect with Perspectives, a charity and community centre in Danes, Transylvania, in a trip that included bringing Ukrainian refugees back from the border to the centre.

Jonny said: "As we reflect back on our time last year going into Ukraine to bring refugees back – it is lovely to see they are now well-established in their communities and learning English well.

"It is really heart-breaking to see many families torn from loved ones and their homes while the war rages on.

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"We pray that we've been able to help a little with some of the work we've been able to undertake this week.

"In April 2022 we brought Erana, an actress in Kyiv, out of Ukraine.

"I reconnected with her this week after one year in Romania and is now settled and much more confident and happier.

The Westmorland Gazette: Jonny Gios with Erana, who the team brought from Ukraine last yearJonny Gios with Erana, who the team brought from Ukraine last year (Image: Jonny Gios)

"It is a delight to see the Ukrainian community integrated with the Romania community."

The team also held a Ukrainian afternoon, hosting 90 Ukrainians for a day of games, crafts, food, and sports.

Ambleside Football Club even donated four kits that were given to children, ensuring a corner of south Cumbria will be represented in rural Romania.

The Westmorland Gazette: Ambleside United donated four different kitsAmbleside United donated four different kits (Image: Jonny Gios)

Altogether the church worked with over 300 children and families, gave out 30 water filters to a very deprived community, gave out food bags, and raised £3,000 for Perspectives to carry on its work.

Jonny recalls one memorable visit to Rora, a gypsy village.

"Deprivation there is on another level", Jonny said.

"Children don't have shoes and all the families live and sleep in one room.

"Often when people visit, they want to play games as many don't get that opportunity.

"The little things we take for granted are huge to this community.

"We must always remember that these communities exist and always strive to reach out the hand of compassion as much as we can."