Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February 2022, some 6.6 million Ukrainians are said to have fled their country. 14 million have been displaced from their homes. There are now over 60,000 visa holders who have settled in the UK. We have yet to obtain how many of those have come to West Sussex. One such family is known to the author of this article as they are a host themselves. A mother and 3 year old daughter are now settling in to a quiet existence in near Horsham. Their flat in Irpen, which is not far from the capital Kyiv, was destroyed by Russian missiles. Luckily they were not there at the time, having moved to stay with the grandparents. They spent three days travelling to the UK, finally arriving at Gatwick Airport from Krakow. Airlines, such as Wizzair are offering free flights to refugees travelling to the UK from countries such as Poland, until 15th June. The husband/father remains in Ukraine in a non-combative protective occupation.
Sadly, we anticipate that not all placements are going to be plain sailing. There is a lot that potential hosts should consider before taking on such a bit commitment. There will be cultural differences, possible trauma experienced by the guests prior to them fleeing the war, differing parental styles, differing dietary preferences, differing hygiene standards and of course possible language barriers. There is useful information to be found on the internet to help potential/existing hosts and many local Facebook and WhatsApp groups supporting hosts and guests. There is quite a network of Ukrainian support groups developing in our County.
Here at WSMS we are looking for funding to help us support host families or guests in need of mediation. The service will be free at the point of delivery, as it always is with our community work. We may need to employ interpreters to aid communication in any meetings that we hold. We will go to where the need is and visit clients in their homes. You can support our work by making a donation to our charity here.
Let’s all pray for an end to the war and the arrival of a time when the refugees can return to their homeland and love ones.