ESTC member welcomes Ukrainian family into home
England Supporters Travel Club member Paul Willis welcomed Kateryna Trushko and her son Vadym into his family as part of the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme
On Sunday 26 March, we welcomed Paul and his family alongside Kateryna and Vadym to Wembley for England's game with Ukraine and had a special surprise for the kids.
We asked Paul to describe their experiences:
“Kateryna and Vadym left Ukraine on the day Russia invaded the country in February 2022. It was a very hasty departure, leaving with just a rucksack from their hometown of Dnipro after a brief family meeting with her husband and parents. They travelled through Poland, spent a further month in Germany and then headed to the UK.
"Upon arrival, they travelled to Staffordshire where they had arranged to stay with a family in the north of the county. Unfortunately, the placement broke down and Kateryna and Vadym were then classed as homeless. They spent two months in a hotel while the local 'Resettlement Team' tried to find a new home for them. I had registered in February to become a host and was contacted in August 2022 to check if I was still interested in the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
"It's fair to say all of us were very nervous at our first introduction meeting. After all the relevant checks were made, Kateryna and Vadym moved from their hotel in Stafford to my home in September.”
How did they adapt to living in England?
“The family have adapted brilliantly to life here. They have tried lots of different British foods (including the local speciality of Staffordshire Oatcakes), vastly improved their English language skills and have made new friends. Kateryna applied for many jobs as she believes it is very important that she contributes to the country who has taken in her family, and she has been successful in getting a job at Stafford Borough Council!
"Vadym has settled in remarkably well and his understanding of English has improved beyond measure. He has had great reports from school, and he has become a very popular addition to his class. He has joined my grandson’s local team and they have become the very best of friends.”
How was your experience at England v Ukraine? Please let us know how the boys are feeling after seeing the warm-ups up close.
“Sport is a wonderful inclusive activity and having sat with many families as part of the FA's invitation of a 1000 Ukrainians to the game, it was amazing to watch them actively conversing, sharing stories and experiences, and enjoying the football. If this could be replicated in some way at a local level that would fantastic.
“The boys had not been made aware of the surprise that was in store for them. Well, what can I say, the boys were so excited to meet Lewis and be taken on a secret journey which took them down to the Wembley pitch and to watch the players warming up. Vadym described it as ‘the best day of my life'. Kateryna sent pictures to her family immediately and they were shared on social media in the Ukraine with hundreds of likes.”
If you have anything in addition you’d like to add, please do!
“On behalf of Kateryna and Vadym, and my son Mitch and grandson Lucas, we'd like to say a massive thank you to Lewis Rice and Paras Panesar at the FA who made this happen.
“I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Kateryna and her family to have made the drastic decision they did and the trauma they initially experienced. But this gesture by the FA has lifted their spirits more than you will ever know.”
"We are incredibly proud of Paul, who is a great example of someone who represents England the right way. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to facilitate experiences like these, and to receive such positive feedback. Hopefully this is a memory for Vadym and Lucas that lasts a lifetime and seeing the players warm-up up close inspires them throughout their footballing journeys."
If any other England Supporters Travel Club members would like to share their positive stories in relation to following England Home and Away, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love to hear them and tell your story!