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Keith, Community Volunteer and Host

Keith, Community Volunteer and Sponsor

 Why did you decide to volunteer and host?

My mother emigrated from Norway and I had a Hungarian uncle who fled Hungary in 1959 due to problems to do with the Iron Curtain, he had to leave his family behind. My aunt from Greece also fled with her family when their area was annexed by Turkey in the 1920s. A lot of my family were refugees. When I saw on the news families that had fled Ukraine with so little, it was an emotional connection for me. Sheer humanity motivated me.

My wife and I are members of the Methodist Church and through volunteering with them for the Saturday group for Ukrainians, and a lot of discussion about how it might change our lives, we decided that we wanted to sponsor too. It helped to have Ukrainians here that could help us and our guest with the paperwork and translation as our guest spoke little English.

How have you found hosting?

Things are never how you expect they will be; you want to respect the experiences and independence of your guests, but you also need to communicate well and make them feel comfortable and welcome in your home.

We hope that one day the war will be over, and our guest will be able to return to Ukraine and we will celebrate that with her.

If you had one message to give to the Harborough community about the Ukrainian community, what would you say?

When you start this journey, you never really know what will happen, but when you look back on it, you’ll be glad you did it. Volunteering and hosting have given me a deeper insight into what it’s like to emigrate and it’s enriched my life to see the resilience of their people. I hope you see it too.

Have you always lived in Harborough?

I’ve lived here for four years, I grew up in Dagenham (London), Previously lived in Essex and retired to Harborough as my wife Jacqui was from Leicester and Harborough felt like a nice place that was close to amenities and it felt like there was more of a community here.

What’s your favourite thing about Harborough?

It’s a happy positive place with a great community feel.

What’s your favourite place in Harborough?

It’s hard to name just one, but I love the canal.

Do you think you’ll stay in Harborough?