Amazing moment family fleeing war-torn Ukraine arrive safely at Bristol Airport
They had taken a dangerous, multi-day journey to get to the UK
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This is the tear-jerking moment a woman welcomed a Ukrainian family at Bristol Airport after organising their resettlement.
Aimee Stott, 29, welcomed Olesya, 31, and her son who had just taken a dangerous, multi-day journey to flee war-torn Ukraine.
Aimee, a stay-at-home mum who used to work in an art gallery, made contact with Olesya over an unregulated Facebook group, in which refugees self-advertise, and match with sponsors that would house them in the UK.
She then applied for a visa using the UK’s “Homes for Ukraine” scheme.
Aimee underlined how dangerous the process is and that it could lead to vulnerable women and children arriving in the country, only to find their new home completely unliveable, and ending up on the streets.
“I can’t describe to you how angry I am”, Aimee, from South Wales, said, decrying the danger these women and children are facing.
“You’ve got these beautiful women advertising themselves and their children, in need of a sponsor.
“And then you’ve got men commenting saying ‘I can host you but we’ve got to share a bed’, or ‘I can host you but I’ll expect you to do x, y, and z’.”
“You’ve got men openly commenting: ‘Let’s share a bed, and I’ll give you some of the money that I got from the government if you clean my house’”.
Olesya and her son had to take a two-day train ride from their hometown, which was under constant risk of bombardment, to Lviv.
From Lviv they travelled by train again to Poland, where they met up with a contact of Aimee’s, and flew to Bristol.
Aimee explained: “Trains weren’t running, and when they were, it was a nightmare, she was travelling alone, with a three-year-old, she had left her entire family behind.”
Throughout all this, both women were battling to get her paperwork in order.
Aimee said: “The paperwork required you to have a Ukrainian international passport, and if you don’t hold an international passport you’ve got to go to a visa centre, and the nearest one to her, because the Ukrainian one was shut, was in Poland.
“So to get a visa, because she didn’t have an international passport, she would have to travel to Poland and wait there in a refugee camp.”
Nearing the end, the mother and her child were in so much danger that Aimee considered telling them to give up, and simply resettle in a nearby country.
Olesya and her son eventually arrived in Bristol on April 17. Now, Olesya and her son live comfortably in Aimee’s spare room in Bridgend.
They’ve found a Polish store that sells the food they like, and they’ve already cooked Aimee some Borsch.
Aimee says that her son and Olesya’s get along amazing, and they get over the language barrier ‘by punching and shoving and rolling around’.
Aimee’s battle is still not over, however. she has begun volunteering, helping to administrate a Facebook group that works to match families with sponsors in the UK.
This group provides the refugees with more oversight during their search for housing.
She is also using her contacts in the Welsh government to report the problems that she and those she is working with are experiencing.
She added: “There is going to be a housing crisis on the back of this sponsorship scheme, I’m telling you now, because I’ve already heard and know of several people who have arrived, and are frightened, and don’t know where to go.”