A NORTH Yorkshire couple who are expecting the arrival of a Ukrainian family by the end of the week has praised the strength of the community spirit that they’ve seen since announcing that they would be taking in a refugee family.

Like 150,000 other people from the UK, Alison and Mark Williams, from Crakehall, Bedale, started the process of signing up to the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ government scheme earlier this month.

As part of the scheme, which is looking to resettle Ukrainians that are stuck in the war-torn country or have fled to the nearby Poland and Moldova borders, refugees who have a ‘sponsor’ in the UK will be able to move over in the coming weeks.

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After having two spare rooms available, due to their three grown children moving out of their home, Mrs Williams and her husband felt like they had “more than enough room” to house those fleeing the horrors of Ukraine.

Through the rehoming process, which included signing visas and other documents, as well as getting ‘paired’ with Ukrainian refugees, the Bedale couple have expressed their surprise at the speed that they’ve been able to have their application accepted and expect to welcome a family on Friday (March 25).

Although it will be a ‘step into the unknown’, they’ve been speaking to the couple, Anton and Natalie, as well as their two children, and have already struck up a bond with their guests.

The Northern Echo: Alison Williams at her home in Crakehall, Bedale. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.Alison Williams at her home in Crakehall, Bedale. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.

Despite being apprehensive about the reaction of their neighbours, the Bedale couple have seen a big show of community spirit, including offers of bunk beds, furniture, clothing and even lifts to work.

Mrs Williams said: “By the end of the week, we’ll hopefully have Anton and Natalie over in the UK, and I can’t wait.

“Telling my neighbours that I signed up to the Homes for Ukraine scheme could have been tricky, but I should have had nothing to worry about.

The Northern Echo: Anton and Natalie will hopefully be heading to the UK on Friday (March 25). Picture: FAMILY PHOTO.Anton and Natalie will hopefully be heading to the UK on Friday (March 25). Picture: FAMILY PHOTO.

“My elderly neighbour has stepped in to offer lifts wherever they want and loads of people have messaged to ask what they can do to help. I can’t believe how lovely everyone has been.”

Alongside the community spirit, the connections between the Bedale and Ukrainian families is already evident.  

Mrs Williams, who is a childminder and singer by trade, has agreed to tutor Anton and Natalie’s eight-year-old daughter to sing, and have invited the Ukrainian family to an upcoming show of hers.

The Northern Echo: Alison and Mark Williams. Picture: FAMILY PHOTO.Alison and Mark Williams. Picture: FAMILY PHOTO.

She added: “I’m hoping and praying that everything goes well and they’re able to come over on Friday.

“As a mother of three grown up children, I would like to think that if something this awful happened in this country, someone would reach out and help them too.

“It has made me realise that none of us are ever safe and no one deserves what the people of that beautiful country are going through.

“I honestly feel that what I'm doing is just a drop in the ocean to help and yet I know it can make a difference.”

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