TWO organisations based in the Stroud district have spoken out against a ‘deplorable act of racist cowardice’ after vandals defaced a Ukrainian flag.

The flag, which was flying on a pole in the yard at St Giles Church, Uley, was taken down and had racist wording scrawled over it. 

The incident took place at some point between 7pm on Thursday, May 26 and 7am on Friday, May 27.

Police in Dursley are now appealing for anyone who witnessed anyone acting suspiciously in the area around the time, or who may CCTV of the area to get in touch.

Anyone with information should contact police by quoting incident number 152 of 30 May.

Stroud Against Racism and Stroud Ukraine Refugee Support community have spoken out about the incident, saying it does not represent the 'overwhelmingly positive response towards Ukrainians arriving in the area.' 

“This is not representative of the outpouring of support the Stroud district has shown towards Ukraine and Ukrainians,” said a spokesperson for Stroud Against Racism.

“This is a deplorable act of racist cowardice.”

Stroud Ukraine Refugee Support community has been at the forefront of a wide range of initiatives across the district to help Ukrainians.

"We have seen an overwhelmingly positive response to Ukrainians arriving in the area," said a spokesperson. 

"The community welcome to people fleeing from desperate situations is fantastic in every area of life and the new arrivals are already keen to find ways to contribute to the local area.

"We were saddened to hear about the incident which is not representative of the compassionate and generous public opinion in the area."

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, residents across the Stroud district have welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms and been very generous with fundraising efforts.

In the wake of the invasion, a new group was set up to bring together people from the Berkeley, Uley, Wotton and Dursley area who wanted to welcome refugees from Ukraine.

Called HUSH (Help for Ukraine Support Hub), it has provided a focal point for those who want to welcome refugees to stay in their home, or who would like to provide practical help to sponsors and resettled families.

Protests were also held across Stroud and Dursley in solidarity with Ukrainians.