A family in the small village of Sharpthorne in West Sussex have been so moved by the plight of Ukrainians caught in the invasion of their country by Russia they’ve opened their home to four refugees.
Bev Duncanson signed up to the UK government’s ‘Homes For Ukraine’ scheme after seeing the violence that families were being subjected to across the country and feeling that she could help.
After discussion with her own family, she was able to match with Liliia Samolevska through ‘Project UKraine’, an online service working to re-home Ukrainian refugees with people in the UK.
Liliia arrived with her two children, Evelina, 7, and Milana, 18, on Good Friday and their cousin is due to arrive in the UK tomorrow, April 27th.
“The support has been fantastic”
The picturesque village in West Sussex, famous for the Bluebell Railway which runs through it, makes a stark contrast to the situation at Liliia’s Ukrainian home located just 25km from the Capital city, Kyiv, near the Belarussian border.
On making the decision to seek asylum in the UK, Liliia spoke of her fears of moving to live with friends in Poland or Moldova, which both lie on the Ukranian border.
Liliia said she and her children feel safe in the UK and her youngest, Evelina, has just started attending West Hoathly Primary School.
The school, which only houses around 100 pupils, is a massive change to the multi-story schools of Ukraine where it is not rare for children from 6-18 to share one
Mrs Duncanson’s eldest son, Callum, teaches at the school, which is a short walk from the family’s home.
Liliia’s family have not all left Ukraine – her husband remains in their home and they talk everyday. Liliia spoke about the bleak situation back in her home town.
She doesn’t know how long her family will have to stay in the UK but while she is here the local community have come together to make sure she feels at home.
The family are not the only Ukranian refugees within the village. Another resident, Sheila Chapman, is also hosting a family.
People have been donating furniture, toys, toiletries, clothes and much more to help the families continue their education and daily lives as uninterrupted as possible.
There is also a play area just across from the school which is a popular spot for many families after the school bell rings.
Liliia spoke of her gratitude to Bev Duncanson for her kindness and “treating [her family] like relatives.” While she is looking forward to spending the Summer months in the UK, she hopes for a swift resolution to the conflict in her homeland.