Almost 250 people from Ukraine have made their homes in the South Hams since the Russian invasion of their country two years ago.

Many have been taken in by local families, and South Hams council members have thanked them for their ‘impressive’ response to the crisis.

Almost half of them have now moved on, with most returning to Ukraine.

A report to the council’s executive committee said: “These extraordinary residents of the South Hams opened their homes and shared their lives with people fleeing their country, leaving loved ones behind.

“Their work has been tireless and unwavering, without which the South Hams would not have been able to welcome so many guests. It is important that their contribution receives the recognition it deserves.”

Officers described how Ukrainian guests often needed help finding their own accommodation when they moved on from host families, because they had no credit histories, guarantors or references from previous landlords. The council also offered help finding work.

Such support will be needed until at least 2027.

“Our officers are doing an amazing job,” said Cllr Denise O’Callaghan (Lib Dem, Kingsbridge)

The meeting also heard how a number of Afghan families whose work with the British armed forces had put them in danger in their home country had also been welcomed in South Devon.

The council has bought 11 properties in Ivybridge and Sherford, which will be available for local needs if and when they are no longer needed by newly-arriving families.

Cllr Jonathan Hawkins (Con, Dartmouth and East Dart) highlighted the plight of a group of people arriving from Afghanistan who were desperate to find work but couldn’t, and he was told the people in question had found jobs within the last week.

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson (Green, Dartington and Staverton) said: “This district council has a lot to be proud of. Its work with refugees is really impressive.”

And Cllr Nicky Hopwood (Con, Woolwell) added: “It is no mean feat for people to open their doors and welcome these people in. We need to take our hats off to them.

“I pray that when they go back, they go back to a better state than they came from.”