Ukrainian families welcomed into new Bexhill home

Two Ukrainian families were welcomed into the heart of the community in Bexhill with a blessing for their new home.

The two-bedroomed property, which became vacant due to a tenant needing to move for more specialist care, was offered by St Augustine's Housing Trust in response to a call put out by the local refugee centre.

Fr Robert Coates, vicar of St Augustine’s, Bexhill, which manages the trust, said: “I am so grateful for all the support people have given to make a difference to these two young families who have been through some very difficult times.”

Ukrainian nationals Natalia and her daughter Sofia will share the two-bedroomed bungalow with Olena and her son Andri.

Fr Robert Coates, vicar of St Augustine’s, Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman, together with Ukrainian nationals Olena and her son Andri and Natalia and her daughter Sofia

Fr Robert said: “Sofia and Natalia’s husbands are still fighting in Ukraine and communication has been very poor for some weeks now.

"Hopefully, this home will give them some comfort and a settled place for their children while they wait for news.

“The property, named Salus House (Salus means ‘safety’ in Latin) has been revamped and fully furnished for our Ukrainian guests thanks to the wonderful help from the community who donated furniture and many practical items.

“The blessing, which took place on Friday (July 22), was intended to mark the start of this new journey for the families, to pray for the home for peace, love and protection."

A tea party was held after the ceremony and Ukrainian food was prepared by the new families.

Fr Robert added: “It was lovely to see a mixture of St. Augustine's congregation, our local MP and mayor and our Ukrainian friends all united in the common cause of Christian hospitality. and a good dose of fun too"

"I am very grateful to all who helped to make Friday's service of blessing for Salus House such a wonderful and memorable occasion.”

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more than 9.6 million refugees have since left Ukraine, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) while an estimated 8 million people had been displaced within the country by May 3.

Ninety per cent of Ukrainian refugees are women and children, partly because Ukrainian men age 18 to 60 are banned from leaving the country.