My name is Aliaksandr, my girlfriend from the Ukraine, Vera with her daughter Karina. They came last week or last Wednesday to Bristol.
Yeah, it took us 17 days to get through this process.
They had anxiety because they’ve been living in like a kind of refugee shelter.
You feel so stress for them and so that’s why we need to get a visa because she needs to see a doctor, Vera. Their application it takes so long. Especially for people whose English is not first language.
Yeah, it took them hours to do the application process. Well, I will say Ukrainian people they are nice, kind and happy, they are positive people. Many, many, many who are coming from Ukraine they are mothers with a child. They don’t need to scare them. Yeah yeah.
I’m absolutely so happy that my girlfriend and her daughter they came to Bristol and I do as much as I can for them to bring for them normal life. So not what is going on over there.
So like. Yeah.
Aliaksandr is a Ukrainian national living in Bristol who is now hosting his girlfriend and daughter who fled the war in Ukraine.
So my name’s Zelda, and I’m hosting a family five, waiting for them to come. I used to work in Ukraine, and I have many connections there. And so as soon as the war started, I was horrified by what was happening and after helping with some donations, helping with raising money I felt like, actually, I’d love to make a more tangible difference to someone or to a family.
And so I connected with a lady I used to work with, and invited her to come. I’m so delighted that there’s going to be these support networks and options for the Ukrainians coming here. It just feels so, it’s so different the experience of getting the visa.
You know, I can see you’re all working really hard to make things ready for our new arrivals and make them welcome. School places, etcetera, how to help them with bank accounts, telephones all these things. I would say that what’s stopping you. You know, if it was you, wouldn’t you want someone to help you if it was your family sleeping on the floor of an air raid shelter? Your young children, not enough to eat, not clean water. You don’t know if they’re going to live the night.
Wouldn’t you want someone to help you? And if you would, then you need to help someone as well.
Zelda used to work in Bristol and was hoping to host a family of five as part of the #HomesForUkraine scheme.
My name’s Leah and I am working for a charity called Love Bristol, that are based in Bristol. So we originally just went to Poland, went to the Ukrainian border just with aid and that was when the UK decided to open the borders. And soon after that, the visa process started. We started supporting people with their visa process and getting to know people, matching people with people in the UK. We knew that there were so many sponsors in the UK and really, really generous people wanting to open their home.
So it was just a real privilege to be able to actually start matching them with Ukrainian families that wanted to come to the UK.
So we’ve been offered accommodation by so many amazing people, churches, people’s houses, different hotels, where people wait for their visas to be processed and for their visas to be granted.
It’s genuinely a privilege. It’s a privilege to be able to spend time with people that are coming from a place of, it’s just devastating what’s happening. So hosts and sponsors, it’s been actually really emotional seeing the amount of people that are willing to open up their homes and become family for people.
And also to support our team and to go and volunteer and spend time at the Ukrainian border. They’re doing children’s groups and just different things like that to keep people entertained while they wait for their visa. At the moment, some people have been waiting 26 days and we have no idea how long the visa process is actually going to take.
Get in touch with the Love Bristol team. We’ve got a website, lovebristol.org and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So please do contact us .A lot of people, a lot of Ukrainians haven’t left Ukraine before. So going on a plane is really, really daunting.
So once they’ve got their visa application, we’re looking for people to be companions, to fly to Poland, to meet them at the airport and then get to know them and then help them with their journey to the UK, to then be introduced to the sponsor the other end.
Leah volunteers with Love Bristol and has been supporting Ukrainians at the border and on their journeys to Bristol.
I’m Helen and we’re hosting a mother and her 12 year-old son in Bristol, and they arrived last Sunday so we were, we were lucky to be among the first group, I think.
Yes, and I’m Adam, living in the same house and really happy to be taking this on.
I can’t remember what moment I actually decided that this is what I was going to do, or we were going to do. It was a thing that grew, I think gradually over the first week or two of the invasion and seeing the number of refugees rise. And I think it was at that point, I felt that everybody had to do something. We had to do something. Sure, yah. But it was a very gradual decision. It wasn’t a sudden decision. There’s just so much to learn, so much to do. And we realise actually the importance of having, well I’m realising today, particularly the importance of having a host family who’s able to give time to this.
Yeah. Well, we’re communicating using Google Translate at the moment, both verbally and in text. And that’s getting us by. And we’ve noticed that our, the lady with us has got headphones on listening to an English tape to try and, you know, get her English up as quickly as she possibly can.
We have two sisters, each with a child and my friend over the road has taken one sister and one child. So it’s really nice for them to have that family support and even talking about another sister coming out and staying in the road as well. iit’s such a good situation and I realise that that benefits us as well as.
Well we’ve yet to find out all the benefits but certainly it feels even at this stage quite rewarding. And I also think it’s, it’s really nice within our street community to have seen we’re already connected with other people anyway. But to see just how much, you know, sort of readiness and enthusiasm there is and although obviously you’ve got to be in a position as we are to be able to provide the accommodation and to host somebody, there are clearly a large number of people in the community who want to chip in in whatever way they can. And that’s already happening in quite a big way.
I think one of the things that I felt about it was obviously we’d go out of our way to provide space, make it comfortable, help people to feel at home. But I didn’t want to give up the bits of our daily lives that we enjoy. Visits from friends, visits from grandchildren. So, we’ve kept space for that to continue, even though obviously we’ve given over two rooms to our guests. We haven’t yet met any obstacles or irritations, but it’s early days, and I think you’ve got to really want to do it. In order to be able to overcome the difficult bits when they, when they happen.
Helen and Adam were compelled to help as they saw the war in Ukraine unfold. They’re hosting a mother and son.