Host families reading urge Ukrainian refugees to find new accommodation as they didn’t think the war would be so ‘long’

Concerns have been raised that Ukrainian refugees living in Reading could become homeless – as the war in Eastern Europe reaches its fourth anniversary. Russia invaded Ukraine four months ago today, February 24, 2022, and since then thousands of families have fled the country and sought refuge in places like Reading and elsewhere in Berkshire.

A diverse city with its own Ukrainian community, Reading reacted to the outbreak of war with shock and horror. Flowers were laid outside the Ukrainian community center in Reading days after the conflict began and people began donating and pledging to house refugees. The government’s response has been described by many as slow.

The Homes for Ukraine program began on March 18 and since then families have started entering the country and residing in accommodation provided by host families. Four months into the conflict, however, it appears that some host families are war-weary and are even encouraging refugees to find alternative accommodation.

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Reading Ukrainian Community Center member Mick Pollek says he fears Ukrainians will be left homeless when the Homes for Ukraine program ends. He also pointed out that the war is still raging.

Mick said: “Our people continue to die. The war of attrition in Ukraine is absolutely appalling and in fact our country cannot sustain it forever. Our people have their backs to the wall and sometimes when you have your backs to the wall you don’t you have nowhere to go, the only thing you can do is go out and fight, which is probably what will happen.”

Despite this, Mick says Ukrainian determination is “stronger than ever”. In fact, Ukrainian determination is so strong that Mick reports that some women want to leave their children to return to fight in Ukraine.



A Ukrainian man named Eugene Yevchenko cries as he bids farewell to his daughter Maria at a bus station in Lviv, Ukraine in May.

He said: “The women here, they have their children in place and some of them are talking about going back to take up arms, which is a horrible, horrible, horrible discussion to have here.” Most Ukrainian mothers and women will have fled without their sons, fathers and husbands who were ordered to stay and fight against the imposition of martial law.

Having had four months to respond appropriately to the war, Mick described the government’s efforts as “appalling”. He explained that the Homes for Ukrainian program is deeply flawed because it ends after six months.

Mick fears this could lead to Ukrainians becoming homeless, especially as some host families are already trying to entice their refugees to leave. Mick said: ‘We have people contacting us saying ‘our hosts are asking us to find somewhere to go because it’s taking too long, they didn’t know it was going to be so long’.

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“We need to find other people who are willing to do that, coincidentally certainly in the Reading area, luckily we have a good relationship with Reading Borough Council and we haven’t had too many families who have moved on. presented as homeless, but it will be a problem all the way.”

Despite this, Ukrainians in Reading and Berkshire are still receiving support and Mick said he wanted to thank John Lewis, Waitrose, Asda and those in the Reading community who have been particularly helpful. Wokingham City Council has also approved a music event this Saturday June 25 at Peach Place which will raise funds for Ukraine.

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