Man, 30, says taking in older Ukrainian refugee has ‘given his life meaning’

An East London man who took in a Ukrainian refugee says it has “given me a sense of life”. Ben Carr, from London Fields, found himself obsessing over Twitter feeds as Russian forces began invading Ukraine back in February. Feeling helpless and depressed about the state of the war-torn nation, he jumped at the chance to take in a refugee when the Homes for Ukraine scheme opened in the months that followed.

The 30-year-old opened up his home to Olena, 49, who arrived in May. Speaking about his experience so far, he said: “I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s hard to say without sounding a bit over the top and fluffy, but it’s given my life a sense of meaning that wasn’t there before.

Something to tell the grandkids and all that. When I saw the scheme, I happened to have a room going. It felt like a good idea.”

READ MORE: London dad driving truck full of donations 1,300 miles to Ukraine wants to make sure supplies ‘go to the right people’

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol, due to increased Russian attacks over region, are seen near the circus building, in which they are placed in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 15Olena is one of millions of Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war

Ben admits that he was a bit uncertain at first as to how the “whole age, gender and culture gap would play out”, adding: “I’m a scruffy young guy, rough round the edges, while Olena’s a very refined middle-aged woman. “But despite all that – or maybe because of – we’ve got a good dynamic going. She makes me laugh, especially when giving me unsolicited life advice ‘pull your trousers up – it looks like you’re wearing a diaper’.

“Through Olena, I’m now less naive about the life of a refugee in the UK and the effects war has on people’s everyday lives. I’ve also learnt I’m a big fan of Ukrainian soups.”

Volunteers help to sort through donated items at the Ukrainian Social Club in Holland ParkRussia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a huge humanitarian response across the UK

Hackney Council is now calling upon residents who can offer space in their homes to people who have fled Ukraine to get in touch. As part of the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, the council is currently working to advise and support residents who have already opened their homes to people coming from Ukraine.

But as the war shows no signs of stopping, more refugee families are arriving here needing temporary placements. There are also people that have already arrived from Ukraine that are unable to stay in the home they’ve been matched to and need to find another host. Recent figures estimate that close to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have now been rehomed in the UK.

Cllr Chris Kennedy, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for health, adult social care, voluntary sector and culture, said: “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported the Homes for Ukraine scheme so far, we truly thank them for their continued help and generosity. “The sad fact of the matter is that as the war continues we need more sponsors to offer accommodation in their homes to people who have fled Ukraine. If you, or anyone you know, think you may be able to provide a home then we would love to hear from you.”

Do you have any stories that you think we should be covering? Email sam.ormiston@reachplc.com. Do you want the latest news in your area sent straight to your inbox? It only takes a few minutes!

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