Suffolk MP Matt Hancock welcomes Ukrainian family into his home

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has welcomed a Ukrainian family into his home. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

West Suffolk MP and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has welcomed three generations of family members fleeing Ukraine into his home.

But the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Rt Rev Martin Seeley, is still waiting to hear about his offer to house a refugee family at his home in Ipswich.

Mr Hancock is providing accommodation for seven members of a Ukrainian family in his constituency home. There are three generations and they are related to an Anglo-Ukrainian couple who already live in the area.

The MP said: "The Ukrainian family I'm hosting arrived last week, and it's been wonderful. I spent Easter weekend with them. The whole experience has been incredibly humbling.

"Obviously, there's a language barrier but that doesn't matter - we get on extremely well. They're just like anyone. It's three generations. The mother, sisters and children - and four dogs.

"The paper work for the dogs was a little tricky but we got them over. Now I'm just incredibly grateful for all the support.

"Humbling really is an overused word but that's what this experience is. Imagine if your street was at risk of being bombed - that's the situation for the family I'm hosting.

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"You're living a perfectly normal life and you have your job, your school, university and then suddenly you have to leave with barely more than the clothes on their back.

"One of the things about being a refugee is the enormous uncertainty. They just don't know when they'll be going home. I hope by inviting them into my home that gives them a little bit more certainty.

"There's of course a lot of practical consequences - schools, transport, jobs, education but being an MP I'm used to dealing with those sorts of things.

"In my constituency I've found out there are lots of other people who have applied or have families who've already arrived so there's a growing community of hosts as well - it's really, really nice to be able to do something.

"I got into this by instinctively making an offer to a constituent whose family was in desperate need. It was the natural thing to do. So many of us feel we want to do what we can to help. This is something I can do to help.

"Brits have shown over many years our openness to those escaping violence and persecution.

"The 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme is another reminder that the British people remain some of the most generous in the world. If I can encourage one more person to sign up to this scheme by taking part myself, it'll be worth it."

Earlier in the process, Mr Hancock had described the process of getting the family into Britain as "challenging." That is what Bishop Martin has found.

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley is still waiting to hear about a Ukrainian family moving in to his home. - Credit: Keith Mindham Photography

He has offered to put up a family in the large Bishop's House in Ipswich. He said: “We are still waiting to be paired up with a family and hope that will happen very soon now.

“The situation in Ukraine is clearly becoming more and more dangerous and we can anticipate a growing number seeking safety in other countries.

“The protracted visa requirements in place for those seeking refuge here continue to be frustrating and can only be aggravating the suffering of those fleeing.”