Homes for Ukraine: one year on we talk to a host about their experience

So far, more than 800 East Sussex residents have shown kindness and compassion to people fleeing from the war in Ukraine by offering them shelter through the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

During the 12 months the scheme has been running, they have offered more than 1,600 Ukrainians a place in their homes where they can feel safe and secure.

To mark the scheme’s anniversary last month, Jovanne Campbell spoke to host Clare about the relationship she shares with her Ukrainian guests and her advice to anyone who’s considering becoming a host.

Clare’s story

Clare hosted Maria and her two daughters, Maya and Emma, in her Lewes home for just over nine months. While the family lived in East Sussex, Clare made sure her home was a sanctuary of peace and safety for her guests.

“I’m not going to sit here and say it was a complete walk in the park; as with every relationship you’re going to have ups and downs,” says Clare.

“Maria and her children left a traumatising situation and it’s important to have an understanding of your guests and also the compassion it requires to manage them sensitively.

“I was so proud when Maria’s eldest completed her first day of school, and when Maria found a job as a translator. Just seeing them being able to move forward with their lives, and also making a few friends in the area, was a joy to behold. It just made me happy that I could play such a small part in helping her get back on her feet.”

Returning home

It was an emotional day for everyone involved when Maria and her daughters decided to return to the husband and father they’d left in Ukraine.

“When Maria left, it felt like my own daughter and granddaughters were leaving me. We completely understood the decision for her to go back to Ukraine to be with her husband,” said Clare.

Since returning home, Maria has sent Clare a Thank You card saying “You gave me the strength to recover and face the future”. The bond between the two remains strong; they regularly Facetime each other and the pair spoke on the anniversary of the invasion as Clare says she still feels a responsibility to be there for Maria and support her emotionally.

Homes for Ukraine heroes

Clare said she found the experience ‘amazing’ and it was something that she would like to do again in the near future.

As the invasion continues, more guests are expected to arrive in the county during the coming weeks. But without the generosity of Homes for Ukraine heroes like Clare we could not provide them with safe housing.

If you can offer a home or spare room for at least six months and would like more information on what you can do to help Visit the Homes for Ukraine webpages or email:

We’ve a range of information, advice and support services available to guide you through the process, and as a thank you for your help you will receive a monthly payment.