Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Eleanor Dye

Amazing steps family take to welcome Ukrainian mum and kids into their Merseyside home

A mum-of-four who welcomed a family of Ukrainian refugees into her home two weeks ago has described it as a “whirlwind” experience.

Nicole Ross opened her home in Prenton to mum Mila and her children Nazar, 12, and Tonya, 9, who fled their home in Kyiv. She was horrified when she saw the war in Ukraine break out on the news and, when the government launched the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, she realised she could do something tangible and immediate to help.

Nicole, who is originally from Seattle, has three children living at home and realised Mila’s family were of similar ages. She contacted Mila on Facebook and, after around a month of administrative delays, the family finally arrived at Liverpool airport on April 23.

READ MORE: Urgent warning issued to dog owners who walk through rapeseed fields

The 41-year-old said: “I just can’t imagine having your whole life turned upside down overnight. I want to help them get settled, calm and comfortable and to start building a new normal for themselves.

“They were just doing the same thing as you and I, going about their business and then the very next day everything just changed for them. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to do this.”

Nicole, who works as a programme manager at Amazon, said the two weeks the two families have lived together have so far been “hectic” but a “great experience”. Her own children Taylor, 9, and Warren, 8, have moved into the master bedroom with her so Mila and her children can have their own space.

The host family has worked hard to make their Ukrainian guests feel at home. Nicole said it has been a “whirlwind” as they sort out bank accounts, SIM cards and payments from the council.

The two mums, who are of a similar age and are both business professionals, are working hard to teach each other their different languages.

Nicole’s children have also made a great effort to welcome the family. Her 18-year-old daughter, Lucy, made a translation book for everyone to use with English and Ukrainian phrases, which they keep on the table to help them communicate in both languages.

Tonya and Taylor have spent time watching TikToks together, while Nazar and Warren both like football. Nicole said: “I think the kids were nervous at first but they’re excited about having new friends. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for them.

“They can experience a different culture and get a wider worldview, share different experiences and continue to develop their empathy for others.”

Nicole realises the importance of her guests starting to build a life in the UK. She is hoping to get Nazar enrolled in a school and has been taking him to football matches at the weekends, and Tonya to aerial acrobatics.

She’s introduced them to life in north-west England, taking the family to a Tranmere football match, to parks and the beach at West Kirby. She said: “I think they like Merseyside so far! It’s still all very new and they’re finding it quite overwhelming but the mum says it’s beautiful.

“Life’s definitely got busier and I’m having to be more organised! There’s a few more matches to go to at the weekends and a few more errands to do!”

She added everyone seems to be settling in well so far – and the guests are quiet, respectable and tidy. Mila even brought Nicole a present from Ukraine as her birthday is coming up.

The families applied to extend the arrangement for three years the day after they arrived at Nicole’s home. She said: “The conflict isn’t going to go away anytime soon and it will be easier for them to settle down if they stay longer.

“It’s a lovely feeling to be able to do this and so far it’s been a really great experience. There’s going to be days where it’s a bit awkward and crowded and stressful but I’m just glad that I can help and it feels like the right thing to do. I couldn’t not do it!”

She said the help of the Oxton community in Birkenhead has been invaluable. People have generously offered free bunk beds, mattresses, bedding and money.

Nicole knows other host families living close by and hopes to create a community for everyone to come together and for the families to meet each other. Those who haven’t been able to offer space in their own homes have reached out to Nicole and have done everything they can to make life as comfortable as possible for the two families.

When asked about her advice to anyone considering hosting a family of their own, Nicole said: “If you’re passionate about it then I would go for it!”

Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what's on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.