Supported Lodgings Host Alex recently accommodated two Ukrainian refugees, providing them with emergency support before a permanent place could be found for them.
One night, two 17-year old Ukrainian girls arrived in the UK. They were identified as Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) having fled the conflict and leaving their families behind. Step by Step was contacted and asked if they could find a temporary home for the teenagers.
Alex, who has been a host for Supported Lodgings for a number of years, took them on that same night. The girls spoke good English and immediately opened up to Alex about their experiences of the conflict.
Alex recalls: “The girls talked about the war, about going into underground bunkers to sleep and the noise of warfare. But the biggest issue was missing friends and family.”
Being a Supported Lodgings Host is about more than providing a safe place to live. Alex also acted as a mentor and confidant. Meal times proved an opportunity for the girls to share their thoughts and concerns, and for Alex to help them feel assured and at home.
“We always ate together and I cooked Ukrainian food like borsch. The girls chatted with me about music and boyfriends. By our second dinner, we were like old friends.”
The girls kept in regular contact with their families by phone, and got up early each morning to log-on to their school website and continue their studies. They displayed real bravery and were determined to keep their spirits up, joking around with each other and staying motivated.
The placement was overseen by Step by Step Support Worker, Jayne, who observed the vulnerability beneath their positive attitudes. “I was really struck by the resilience of the girls, but I could see the concern and fear in their eyes when they spoke about their families who were left in Ukraine. It felt so rewarding just to know that these lovely young women were safe from the horrors of current life in Ukraine.”
Alex remembers a poignant occasion when he took the girls out for a walk in the park one day. A group of boys, aged 10 or 11, approached the group. It turned out they too were Ukrainian, having lived in this country for a few years, and wanted to give the girls a small amount of money.
We are happy to report that the girls now live with a family under the government scheme. Although they were with Alex for just a short time, they made a lasting impression.
“The girls were positive throughout their stay. They were funny, great company, a little bit cheeky but in a good way! The experience was extremely positive and I was very sorry to see them go.”
The girls are just two of the numerous Ukrainian young people Step by Step are delighted to have supported.
Click here find out more about becoming a Supported Lodgings Host.
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James is a trustee for Step by Step, but his involvement with the charity started 10 years ago when he found himself homeless, abandoned by his alcoholic mother. He shares his story and just how he has come so far.Read more