Total number of Ukrainian refugees in East Sussex announced


East Sussex County Council has reported that 1,000 people have settled in the county since the start of the government’s Homes For Ukraine program in March.

More than 600 host families have taken in war refugees in their homes.

TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, who lives near Fletching, has a guest family from Lviv.

Natascha said she had very personal reasons for wanting to help.

“I come from a refugee family. My father was a political refugee from South Africa and our family fled Europe during World War II, so I just had to host a family,” she said.

“I’m very privileged to have the space and there was no question in my mind that I had to do whatever it took to help.”

Natasha helped set up a community group that has found homes for a large number of local Ukrainians and was contacted by Anastasiia Kmit on social media.

After Anastasiia and her family decided to leave Ukraine, they traveled by bus for 24 hours to cross the border into Poland. Everyone only had a backpack and sat between the seats because the bus was so full.

Although the family is relieved to be safe in Sussex, they miss life in Ukraine.

Natasha said: “They are the most amazing family and we love having them, but they want to be home. They left everything, everything they worked for is just gone.”

Anastasiia and her husband Yarrick ran an Aikido martial arts school in Ukraine. Her students write and ask her when they are coming back.

Anastasiia said, “It’s bittersweet for us. Natasha’s family was so kind and lovely to us. We are really happy to be here and are very grateful.

“But every morning I wake up and think ‘is this a dream?’ Then I realize that it’s not a dream and that we have to live here now. It’s really hard being in another country, especially when you haven’t planned to leave.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Whittaker, who owns an equine veterinary practice with her husband Reuben, has welcomed a family from Kharkov to her home in Northiam.

Sarah, whose grandmother fled Germany as a refugee, wanted to do something to recognize her help in England.

“Reuben and I were keen to help if we could. If we were in the same situation, we would hope someone would do it for us,” she said.

Anna and Timur, who ran a chain of heater stores in Ukraine before the Russian invasion, had recently built a new house.

The family left after being woken by the sound of an explosion on February 24. They traveled to central Ukraine but decided to leave a month later after an explosion at a nearby oil refinery.

Anna said: “It’s impossible to lead a normal life if you get air raid warnings several times a day and have to stay in a bomb shelter the whole time.”

After signing up for the Homes For Ukraine programme, Sarah found Anna via social media and the family arrived in the UK after driving 2,000 miles across Europe.

Borough Council leader Keith Glazier said: “The community effort to settle those fleeing the conflict in East Sussex has been tremendous and I would like to thank all our residents for their help and support.”

Council recently set up the Homes For Ukraine Community Support Grant Fund to distribute £490,000 to voluntary action groups to help them support the work of local networks and community hubs.

The council also provides laptops and a welcome phrase book for Ukrainian guests. Total number of Ukrainian refugees in East Sussex announced

Fry Electronics Team

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