Since November 2022, we have become the hosts and sponsors of Anna, her son Mark aged 8 and her mother Maria, at our home in High Wycombe.
Last March, we registered with the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, and in the summer we were approached by the Buckinghamshire liaison team looking for new sponsors for a number of Ukrainian families who were coming to the end of their first six months in England.
They thought our location and accommodation might well be suitable for Anna, Mark and Maria, and enable them to be housed together as a family.
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Importantly, the team were able to visit us to meet us and see our house, and to put us in direct contact with the family’s previous sponsors.
Then, when we were comfortable with what we had learnt about them, and before either side had made a commitment, they brought the family to meet us and see our house and location.
We liked the family immediately, they liked us, and they moved in with us a week later. Fortunately, Anna speaks good English which was a very great help.
We have found the family delightful guests and friends. They have been very flexible, appreciative and easy to share our house with, in particular our kitchen/breakfast room.
They are very helpful, and amazingly cheerful most of the time despite the horrors they have been through.
The family has settled in well and Mark has started at The Disraeli School in High Wycombe, which was able to take him, and has a good reputation.
So far things are going well, and Mark’s grasp of English after nine months is amazing – as is his skill at building complex Lego models.
For both my wife and myself, the experience to date has been extremely positive and enjoyable.
It has widened our horizons and provided us with a new challenge. We realise the longer-term future for Anna and her family is completely uncertain as their home city of Mariupol has been almost completely destroyed and the war continues to rage.
We are content to provide them with a temporary refuge. We do encourage other Rotarians to consider taking in a Ukrainian family.
From our perspective the fact of our being second hosts, and the help and support provided by the excellent Buckinghamshire Council liaison team, has made the process relatively simple, and greatly reduced the risk of the placement proving unsuccessful.
Roland Lawrence is a member of the Rotary Club of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. His wife Gill is a member and treasurer of the Inner Wheel Club of High Wycombe.