Congleton Town Council invited local hosts in the UK Government’s “Homes for Ukraine” visa scheme to an evening reception at the Town Hall recently.
The hosts have or will soon get Ukrainian people, mostly families with children, living with them under the scheme as Ukrainian’s continue to flee the war in their homeland. There are 74 host families in the area who have been ‘matched’ with more than 175 Ukrainian guests, making a total community of over 400 people. The evening included a number of talks and Q&A sessions, with hosts able to share experiences and learn from each other as well as from experts.
Cllr Kay Wesley, Chair of the Community & Environment Committee of Congleton Town Council, welcomed the group of around forty, saying: “I am also a host, or I was until today. it has been our pleasure to host Oksana, Sasha and Denys for the last 8 months. Today we moved them into their own new home, and it felt like our own children leaving home again – a mixture of sadness that they are going and joy that they have their own place and can make their future here in the UK.”
Paul Nixon, Director of the Congleton Area Ukraine Support Network (CAUSN) explained options for guests to move into their own rented property at the end of the hosting period, and the support that CAUSN can offer with furniture and moving assistance. He also appealed for more volunteers to support this effort, as many families are now getting ready to move house.
Sarah Spicer, an English teacher, explained the differences between English and Ukrainian and gave some tips and guidance for helping guests learn English, a major enabler to getting work and their own home. Nadiia Holovchuk, a Ukrainian guest and also a teacher, then led a short fun training session of Ukrainian words and phrases to help hosts communicate with their guests.
The response from the group was very positive. Joyce Halsall attended the event and said: “It was really useful and informative, plus it was good to catch up with other hosts.” Alex Davis, a volunteer with CAUSN and a host, added: “Well done everyone – lots of useful information to take home and help our guests - and ourselves.”
The CAUSN group has been supporting Ukrainian guests and their hosts ever since the scheme started, and has run a number of outings and social events such as trips to the Blackpool Illuminations and Formby Beach, theatre trips and a Ukrainian Christmas party in partnership with Congleton Town Council. Ukrainian guests have made friends in the area, most of the parents are now working and the children have settled into local schools.
Clare Sheard, another local resident involved in the hosting scheme summed up one of the benefits of the event, saying: “It was a really useful and enjoyable evening. My guest Natasha, nearly fell off her chair when I said ‘dobroho ranku’ to her this morning!”
If you would like to volunteer or make a donation, or to learn more about being a host, visit www.causn.com