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‘Hosting has brought a very special family into our home’: Stroud stands with Ukraine

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When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the world looked on in horror. Fiona and Heidi were no different, and they both decided to do something to help innocent people displaced by the conflict.

Community group Stroud Stands with Ukraine (SSWU) knows first-hand how painful a reminder the second anniversary is for people who have had to leave behind a beloved country, family, friends, homes and jobs.

“Hosting has brought a very special family into our home and we have made lifelong friends. We have shared our cultures and customs with each other and eaten many meals together,” revealed host Fiona.  

“Of course it is difficult for both parties, but by taking a risk, you can gain loyal friends for life,” said Irina, who is hosted by Fiona.

The huge emotional upheaval to find safety in a different country is unimaginable – trying to find a place to stay and work, finding a school, still being a parent and learning a different language.  We feel privileged to have met and helped many people who have come here, and we now hope many of them now feel part of our wonderful community in Stroud district.  

Sponsors have been a crucial part of what has been achieved already. They have shared rooms in their homes to take in strangers in a time of need. They’ve also supported them continuously with all aspects of life from bank accounts to schooling and more: the list is endless. They have provided a safe space, a hug and in turn guests have become part of the family and friendships have flourished. This is why being a sponsor is still so important. 

Anastasiia said: “To be hosted for us – it’s like a chance for a second life – it’s a rebirth from trauma of war and horror, an opportunity to be safe, to live a normal life in civilised society, to have hope for a happy future. 

“It’s incredible how big and kind hearts the English people have, opening their doors to us in their homes. We are incredibly grateful for everything and it’s hard to even express how much it means to us.”

Host Heidi said: “I’m pretty sure that our two families will be friends for life following this experience. I’d encourage anyone with a spare room to join the scheme and help a person or a family to live in a safe refuge from this horrible war to which we can’t yet foresee an end.”

The SSWU are looking for people who can sponsor a single Ukrainian or Ukrainian family desperate to flee the war. We are constantly being asked for sponsors in and around Stroud so if you have a spare room please get in touch. 

You will get £600 per month financial support. SSWU can help with filling forms, advice on banks, what is needed to set up once your guest arrives and much more.

If you can help, please contact team@stroudukraine.org.uk

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