Several Fairfield families have stepped forward to sponsor and host people fleeing the war in Ukraine. We spoke to one of them about the process, their preparations, and whether there’s anything the rest of us can do to help.

“We are hosting a family of four: Mum, Dad and their two daughters. Due to health matters with their eldest child the father hasn’t had to conscript. They’re in the middle of filling out their visa application right now – to really help make this atrocity feel real, their air raid sirens went off as we were messaging and they had to go the shelter, a ten minute walk away – but it’s impossible to say when they’ll arrive, as it is literally in the hands of the government. Once the application has been made I’m hoping it won’t be too long at all.

“I need to get some bits and pieces before they arrive and there may be things that people could donate, but it’s really tricky to know at the moment. We’re just trying to work through one step at a time, and each family will have such different requirements depending on who is coming over and the space that they’re going to be staying in.

“For example, I need to convert part of my son’s bedroom into a bedroom for the girls, and I will need some bunk beds and mattresses for them. I’m also on the hunt for a bike for the oldest child – she is 11 – and a scooter for the youngest, as hopefully if the eldest gets a place at the same school as my eldest son then they will be able to cycle there together.

“I’m hoping that we can create a meet up for all of the Ukrainians and the sponsors to get together once they start arriving and I know that some members of our group have had some lovely ideas around welcome boxes with local information in.”

Susie Wakefield