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Ukrainian host praises welcome

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Ukrainian host praises welcome

A RETIRED Dalry man who is hosting a Ukrainian family has this week praised people in the Glenkens for their overwhelming support of refugees fleeing the conflict with Russia.

Paul Goodwin has hosted a mother and her two sons, aged 10 and six, since July and has dedicated his spare time to helping five other Ukrainian families living nearby to settle into the community.
Trips to the dentist, lifts to the supermarket, contact with local schools, pleas for bikes, and helping the refugees find work so that they can pay their own way has kept 69-year-old Paul extremely busy for the past three months.
Paul gave a talk this week at Dalry Church Guild on Ukrainian refugees integrating into Glenkens communities, and what residents can do to help them.
“I’ve been amazed at the generosity local people have shown to these guests,” he said. “I made a point of introducing my guest to other women and neighbours in the village. Since then we’ve had people appearing at the doorstep with cakes, jams, and offering to help.
“I received two very generous donations. An old work colleague contacted me on Facebook asking for bank details to send some money for the Ukrainian guests. I was expecting maybe £20, but they sent £200.
“Another person was offering to gift some items for a different Ukrainian family. It turned out that these weren’t quite suitable, so he asked for bank details and sent £100 instead to buy the items the family needed.”
Paul is a widower who lost his wife Betty in January and has three spare bedrooms at his home. He was initially supposed to be hosting two women, who are cousins, and the children but one of the adults changed plans.
The family are settled and the boys are enrolled in a local school which utilises translation apps. But all naturally want to return home and reunite the family as soon as possible when the conflict is over.
Mabie Farm Park just outside Dumfries gave free year-long passes to the children staying with Paul, while the owners at Creetown Rock and Gem Museum allowed the youngsters in for free because they are also hosting Ukrainian guests, according to Paul.
These gestures are making life more bearable for the Ukrainian mum and her children living with Paul who have not seen their dad since March this year. He is still living in the family flat in the Kharkiv region, which has since been damaged in attacks.
Paul said: “The balcony was destroyed and the windows were blown in.
“They are all able to keep in touch with him through WhatsApp, but the boys miss their dad terribly.
“My guest received a phone call from her mother recently for the first time in three weeks. She is worried about her too because her mother is living in an occupied area.”
It was believed that the government provides £10,500 per year to each Ukrainian guest, however Paul explained that this money is given to the local authority to meet their additional costs while living in the region.
The mother and two kids had to wait 54 days to receive a visa granting them access to Dumfries and Galloway. After receiving an initial £200 payment, the woman then became eligible for Universal Credit benefits.
However, Paul said: “The Ukrainian guests are all keen to work and, of the six adults that I know well, three have found work already.
“One of the women has a three-year-old child so cannot work, another is returning to Ukraine soon, and the sixth has only been here three weeks and is looking for work.”


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