MORE than 250 households in the BCP region have welcomed Ukrainian refugees, with one Poole mother describing the experience as like having a new family.

Mum of two Nikki signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme when it launched and was paired with a Ukrainian mother and son who had fled their homeland after the traumatic bombing of their region.

When the war started, Ukrainian mother Kateryna and her nine-year-old boy witnessed Russian bombs falling near their flat. She was forced to shelter her son and six-month-old nephew in a bathtub for a week before managing to leave.

She leaves behind her husband, who is still fighting with the Ukraine Armed Forces.

In April, Nikki and her husband drove to France to pick up Kateryna in an emotional meet up.

Since then, the families have become close, with Kateryna’s son starting at the same school as Nikki’s and the two women celebrating Ukrainian Mother’s Day together.

Nikki said: “It’s something that I felt I had to do. Knowing that children were there suffering and missing their childhood – it broke my heart.

“Then knowing that we had a spare room that was big enough and children that would play with them – I knew it was something I had to do.

“When we finally met, we were crying tears of joy and sadness. Now we’re like sisters. My son and daughter have gained a new brother.”

Bournemouth Echo: Ukrainian refugee Kateryna (left) with her host, Poole mum of two Nikki. Picture: BCP CouncilUkrainian refugee Kateryna (left) with her host, Poole mum of two Nikki. Picture: BCP Council

Kateryna is now a cook in a restaurant and working five days a week. She said: “I didn’t believe it was true when the war started. Then I saw a rocket and very big explosion, it was very scary, and my son cried.

“Now I am here I am very happy, because my son has a new family. Every day I say: ‘thank you God for this family and for England’, because now my son has a good friend and I have a new sister.”

BCP Council’s portfolio holder for people and homes Cllr Karen Rampton, said: “Thank you sincerely to everyone who has registered to be a sponsor.

“You are doing such an incredible and vital job and we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping those in need.

“If you live in the BCP area and can help in any way with job offers, accommodation or other offers of support, please get in touch.”

The council is now working with more than 250 host households offering accommodation to around 600 Ukrainian guests.

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