Richmond.gov.uk

Are you thinking of hosting a Ukrainian family?

9 January 2023

We spoke with Richmond resident John, who shares his experiences of hosting Ukrainian guests and the reasons why he encourages others to do the same.

Could you tell us why you decided to become a host?

I was horrified by the brutal nature of the invasion. It felt like something I couldn’t ignore. If this caused inconvenience to me, then how trivial in comparison with the trauma many Ukrainians must have experienced. Ultimately, it was a spontaneous act and one I’ve never had cause to regret.

Can you tell us about your guests?

My two guests are a retired couple from Odesa. They spoke Russian and Ukrainian but absolutely no English. This meant that we had to rely on smartphone apps (that work surprisingly well). My guests are completely self-sufficient and keep the flat spotlessly clean, while also tending to the garden and anything that needs mending around the flat.

What type of accommodation have you provided to guests?

My guests use my spare room, and we share the living room and kitchen.

How independent are your guests? What kind of support have you provided?

My guests are completely independent. When they first arrived, there was a lot to do; signing them up for the local GP and arranging for benefit payments. I also wanted to ensure they were introduced to the local Ukrainian community so they would have an opportunity to make friends. Currently they are self-sufficient and I rarely need to provide any kind of assistance.

How have you found the experience - what have been the most rewarding elements, what have some of the challenges been and how have you overcome those?

I'm very glad that I have been able to provide sanctuary for two people who would otherwise be suffering greatly in Ukraine. I follow the course of the war closely and cheer on every Ukrainian success. The biggest challenge at first was the language barrier, which made conversations quite challenging. But they have been going to classes at Richmond College and every day it becomes easier to communicate. I’ve even learnt a few words of Ukrainian!

What do you think is key to being a good host?

For guests just arriving from Ukraine I would say patience - to be able to overcome all the practical and cultural hurdles that occur in the early months. For someone willing to 'take over' guests who have been here for over 6 months it's a lot easier - all the initial work will have been done. Also, there must be a good level of compatibility between hosts and their guests for the living arrangement to work – it helps to want the same things from the arrangement.

Do you have any tips and advice for people considering become a host?

It's a big commitment for sure but try not to over-think it. Consider what a gift you are providing to someone escaping from an unbearable situation, possibly in fear of their life. I am very glad that I decided to become a host. I would encourage anyone else considering giving it a try.

Further information

Find out more about hosting Ukrainian guests.

If you think you could commit to hosting, please complete our online form, and if we have a suitable match we will be in touch with you.

Find out more about the Homes for Ukraine scheme, including important information and things to think about before signing up to host.

Local authorities are responsible for the wrap-around support package for Ukrainian guests. Find out more about support available in Richmond.

If you have any questions please email the Richmond Homes for Ukraine Team on homesforukraine@richmond.gov.uk.

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Up to: January 2023

Updated: 11 January 2023

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