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Safe refuge

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By Euan Maxwell
Front
Safe refuge

A LOCKERBIE couple are hoping to be among the first in the region to welcome a refugee family from Ukraine into their home.

Stuart and Helen King will be welcoming in Olena Krasovskaya, her daughter Nikita, 12, and her 14-year-old son Polina, pictured, who have fled from Ukrainian city Zaporizhzhia.

Heartbreakingly, Olena has had to leave behind her 21-year-old son Viacheslav, as Ukrainian male citizens between the ages of 18-60 must stay in the country and fight.

The Kings hope Olena and her two children will be flying as soon as their visa has been fully processed, but that could take months.

Stuart said: “We were obviously aware of the growing refugee crisis, and as all our children have moved on and we have many empty rooms, including another lounge, it seemed the obvious choice.

“We have direct contact with them, including Viacheslav, via WhatsApp and Helen arranged for mum and her son in Ukraine to have their phones topped up so that they could have the vital contact they need in this desperate time.

“They will be very welcome to stay with us in our own home and we have committed to a minimum of a six-month period, but we are prepared for longer if required.

“We have carried out some basic DIY and re-arranged some furniture – Helen saw it as good opportunity for a new sofa.

“We have done what we hope will make them feel at home as much as they possibly can, given the circumstances which have brought them here.”

After seeing a picture of Olena and Viacheslav, Helen admits it’s a heartbreaking situation.

She added: “The picture of the son Olena has had to leave behind just breaks my heart.

“As a mother with three grown up children, two of them boys, I can’t imagine how you can make such a devastating decision, to leave a child. It’s just unthinkable.

“We are so lucky that the

only decision we need to make is to decide to help them.”

The Kings found out about a fundraising campaign set up by Joanna Barton – who is flying out to Poznan on Friday to buy urgently needed supplies for displaced families in the refugee centre.

And they decided to support Joanna – who has been running a ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme to enable matching for families before their arrival in the UK.

The Kings have now set-up their own Homes for Ukraine Facebook Group for Lockerbie and Dumfriesshire, which went live earlier this week.

Stuart added: “We decided to support Joanna who had been so helpful in assisting us to match with a refugee family who had been displaced from the Ukraine and find themselves in a holding facility in Warsaw.

“Joanna has been overwhelmed by the amount of work she has been doing, she also works. So, we have offered, and she has agreed for us to set up the Homes for Ukraine Facebook Group for Lockerbie and Dumfriesshire.

“This is a private group, for obvious reasons, but anyone who would like more information about this and is considering hosting a refugee family can request to join.

“We will be collating information on families both here and those fleeing Ukraine so that they can be matched.

“We will also be letting people know what sort of commitment is required, what criteria they must meet (Government set requirements) and what they can expect in terms of any cultural differences.”

Stuart and Helen King

Helen added: “It’s a huge commitment. However, we are going to look upon it as them being friends who are coming to stay, for a long time, who we will help to integrate and support to become independent.

“Lockerbie is such a welcoming community I am confident people will want to get involved. We have already been approached by two families who also want to host.”

Before the invasion the Krasovskaya family lived in Zaporozhye, a city of almost 300,000 people.

Olena – who is a dentist – says her main concern when arriving in the country is being able to find work as soon as she can.

Helen added: “Olena has told us of their fear of living with constant uncertainty and for her son back in the Ukraine, the threat of radioactive and chemical contamination in the event of an attack by Russian troops from the air.

“She has expressed her desire to find work as a dentist as soon as possible so that she can support her family.”

Olena and her son who has stayed behind to fight
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