Communications agencies urged to create jobs in Leeds for Ukrainian professionals fleeing war

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Robert Minton-Taylor, who previously worked in public relations, appealed to companies in the public relations, digital, marketing and advertising sectors to create short-term opportunities for Ukrainian refugees.

Mr Minton-Taylor has been surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reception his idea has received so far with all the companies he has contacted expressing interest in playing a part.

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Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, he said: ‘What would you need as a professional working in this country? Obviously, you need a safe haven, but you also want a job. You don’t want to hang around doing nothing. You would want that for your sanity.

A former university professor encourages communication agencies to create jobs in Leeds for Ukrainian professionals fleeing the war.

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The visiting scholar from Leeds Beckett University wanted to help after he phoned a graduate living in Ukraine and heard shelling in the background.

“I said ‘you have noisy neighbours. What’s the creaking sound?’” he said. “She said ‘no, the shelling just started again’.

Although he was born in Yorkshire, Mr Minton-Taylor lived in Berlin until he was six. He said: “I get flashbacks from my German nanny taking me to the Kurfürstendamm and 80% of Berlin has been destroyed. I remember what a bombed-out city looks like.

He also spent time in the 70s working in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Mr Minton-Taylor said: ‘When I worked in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, bombings and shootings were commonplace. I remember how scared I was in Northern Ireland when I worked there.

As well as encouraging agencies to offer jobs, Mr Minton-Taylor is also looking to approach training companies to provide transport support for refugees.

He also secured support from a guest house owner in his home village of Cononley to provide accommodation.

Mr Minton-Taylor said: “The current situation is that we have accommodation. We have paid jobs. We will meet to discuss how this will work.

“We will not pay for people’s flights to the UK. They will have to travel to the UK themselves.

The former speaker believes that Ukrainian communication professionals have a lot to offer businesses and that the city of Leeds, the UK and Ukraine, has a lot in common.

He said: “It’s a very sophisticated country with 35 million people. There is a sophisticated medium. They have PR companies.

“I noticed that a number of people on my LinkedIn profile worked in PR and marketing or were journalists. Some had their own agencies.

“Leeds is a sophisticated city. It’s a big media city with digital, marketing, PR, advertising and Channel 4 businesses.”

Mr Minton-Taylor added it was a ‘two-way street’ with the potential for Yorkshire businesses to gain a foothold in Eastern Europe when it is safe for refugees to return to Ukraine.

He said: “You might find that there are business opportunities in Ukraine and you will have a partner there.

“Even open countries like Poland. There is obviously close collaboration in this former Soviet bloc of countries that are now independent.

“There’s a potential market for them to know what’s out there. They all speak good English in Ukraine. There is no language barrier.

The plans are expected to be discussed this month, but Mr Minton-Taylor says the jobs “have to be paid for”.

“We realize it has to last a year. It has to be paid for,” he said. “Whether it’s an agency that takes someone on for three months and then works for another agency for three months. This is something we need to discuss.

“I just wanted to get accommodation and interest from agencies and recognition from Leeds City Council for what we’re doing.”

Robert Minton-Taylor hopes the support program is not a “long and cumbersome process” and would like something to be in place by July-August this year.

He does not expect large numbers of refugees to benefit from the initiative, but thinks support could be broadened if successful.

Leeds is ideally placed to help as it is a “business hub” with a “strong marketing, public relations, advertising and media presence”, Mr Minton-Taylor said.

He added: “It’s a very friendly city. Walking up from the station you find people on the street giving away stuff they brought to Greggs for them. You wouldn’t find this in London.

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