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Ukrainian Visitors

It is good to know that Methodists locally and across the world have provided prayers and support for the situation in the Ukraine. Sadly, there are so many situations in the world requiring our prayers, support and donations and as each hits the headlines, there is a danger that other equally well deserving causes drop off the radar.

I find that the situation in the Ukraine remains high on my agenda and in my thoughts as myself and my husband decided to offer a home to Ukrainian visitors.

Whilst this may not be possible for people for many reasons, space, location, regular family visitors or commitments, for us it was more a question of "Why not?"

I thought it might be helpful to share our experience, which has been a positive one as it may encourage more people to see it as a possibility and make further enquiries. A recent discussion with a friend who is in regular correspondence with a resident of Kiev, highlighted the passion of the Ukrainian people to continue the war to ensure their independence from the aggression of Russia. Without doubt this will be a longer conflict than we would wish and more people will flee the country requiring refuge in friendly countries.

The actual administrative process for obtaining Ukrainian visitors is streamlined now and should not present too many difficulties, although impossible I would think without access to a computer. I must highlight the services of the Ukrainian Dorset Community (based in Bournemouth) who have worked tirelessly to assist hosts with applications, match them with known friends and family in Ukraine and ease the process of Visa application and introduction to families. The community is providing social events for the visitors and practical assistance and advice.

Additionally, Dorset Council and I believe Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council have provided support, information and prompt financial assistance to hosts and visitors.

There are now a network of support groups developing throughout the area to offer friendship and support to hosts and the new communities arriving in the area.

Our own visitors a 53 year old Mum who is an English teacher and a 16, now 17 year old young man, have proved to be easy house guests who have accepted help but generally wishing to be independent in their new home. Our Mother is an able, charming and kind person, a Christian in the Orthodox Church, who has joined me at Upton Church. She has been keen to find appropriate employment, but firstly to obtain a College Course for her son. He has now found a place at Brockenhurst College.

It has been humbling to hear the experiences of my guests and to share with their upset and grief for the loss of family and friends and dealing with the uncertainty of the future. Memorably we had a conversation with our guest's husband who emotionally expressed his gratitude for us welcoming his family into our home.

I have been grateful to all my friends who have offered practical and emotional support. It has been amazing those who have wanted to help.

At the moment our guests have returned to Romania to visit family remaining there, but we are in close contact and expect them to return soon.

Please do consider if you could offer a home to a Ukrainian family or indeed have friends who may wish to do this. I would be pleased to offer support if I can. Do maintain Ukraine, the war and its people remaining there and displaced by the war in your prayers.

Teresa Neal

If you are affected by this article, or it has encouraged you to consider hosting a family, Teresa would be happy to talk to you – please getin touch for further details.

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