A retired Lincolnshire couple who took in a family of Ukrainian refugees said they found it a “worthwhile and positive experience”.
Helen and Richard Greener took in journalist Hanna Dzoba and her family after their terrifying flight from Kyiv, to Bulgaria and then to the UK.
The pair, who live in Branston, said the refugees had been made “very welcome by the local community”.
Hanna – known as Anna in Ukraine – her partner Dima, and their family, are currently being hosted as part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
The 27-year-old is also one of more than 120 learners who have have taken places in more than 30 courses organised for refugees from the Ukraine conflict in partnership with Lincoln College.
The news journalist who covered the conflict from a bunker while bomb sirens sounded across Kyiv has praised the “beautiful UK” for the support she has been given since arriving as a refugee.
You can read her story in full here.
Helen and Richard Greener said: “We were both affected by what we were seeing in the media and the desperate plight of the Ukrainians who were looking for safety and homes.
“We both felt that we wanted to help as we would like to think that somebody might help us or our family if we were in the same predicament.”
The couple initially found the application process “difficult to navigate”, registering first with the government website and two charities but without any outcomes.
Eventually they made contact with Hanna and her family through their own contacts,.
“Facebook seemed to be the best method of making contact but we don’t use it, which made things difficult,” they said.
However, once contact was made the couple helped the new family fill in their visa application using WhatsApp, adding: “It was a great help that Hannah spoke good English.”
Helen and Richard are retired, though they work “small, very” part-time jobs.
Richard previously worked as a Civil Engineer with Lincolnshire County Council and Helen worked as an Occupational Therapist for Lincolnshire Children’s Health Services.
They have two daughters who no longer live at home but have been helping with their new guests.
Hanna and her family have their own use of two bedrooms and the house bathroom.
They have also been keen to join in local leisure activities including tennis, dancing and netball.
“Whilst we have had to make adjustments to sharing our house with three additional adults, we feel that it has been a worthwhile and positive experience,” said Helen and Richard.
Relating their advice to any potential hosts they said families should “already have empathy for [the refugees’] very difficult situation.
“We would advise anyone to try to get to know their guests as much as possible. To try to find out what you do and do not have in common,” they said.
“Be prepared to provide initial support with introductions to the local area, registering at the doctors, opening bank accounts and seeking help with accessing any local support groups.
“Our guests have become more independent in accessing English lessons at Lincoln College and shopping, although we still help by taking them on a weekly shopping trip when we do our own shopping.”
Nearly 800 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Lincolnshire so far, and local councils say they need more hosts.
The refugees comes from a wide variety of stories and backgrounds.
Many are women, some with children, and they have left their husbands and partners back home in the war-affected country.
They include teenagers applying for university places and along with software developers, lawyers, senior managers, architects, scientists.
For more information, or to apply becoming a host, email: [email protected].