Ipswich prepares to welcome Ukrainian family waiting for visas in Brussels

Ipswich is ready to welcome a family that fled the war in Ukraine. Inset: Amira, aged seven, and Timur, aged three.

An Ipswich community is ready to welcome a family that fled the war in Ukraine. Inset: Amira, aged seven, and Timur, aged three. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Sergey Tyrskykh

An Ipswich community is getting ready to welcome a family that fled the war in Ukraine and is now waiting in Brussels for visas.

Alina and Sergey Tyrskykh and their children Amira, aged seven, and Timur, aged three, left Kyiv on March 5 as the Russian army approached the city.

For the previous two weeks, they had been sleeping in their car in an underground car park to escape the bombing.

Amira, aged seven, and Timur, aged three.

Amira, aged seven, and Timur, aged three. - Credit: Sergey Tyrskykh

Mr Tyrskykh said: “We wanted to take our kids to some safe place, so we decided to go to the west of Ukraine. We didn’t want to lie to our children so we told them the truth. 

"My kids could hear the bombing and shooting. They saw people leaving. On the third or fourth day of the war, my daughter asked me if we are going to die.

“We only managed to take clothes for kids. We also took our documents and toothbrushes. That’s it.”

 Timur (3) in a refugee centre

Timur, 3, in a refugee centre - Credit: Sergey Tyrskykh

As they were leaving Ukraine, the family stopped at a petrol station. When they did so, they could see bright flashes across the night sky in the direction of Kyiv. They later found out they had been watching the bombing of Irpin. 

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Sergey and Alina say they cannot believe that the places they used to know have been destroyed and say reading about their burned neighbourhood in newspapers is devastating. 

They both speak good English and therefore decided to apply for a UK visa.

The Elliott family, Rachel, Jonathan and their son Noah, are going to be hosting a family of Ukraini

The Elliott family, Rachel, Jonathan and their son Noah, are going to be hosting a family of Ukrainian refugees. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The family stayed with friends in Austria and Germany, as well as in refugees' centres created in sports halls before they were told that as part of their visa application they would have to go to Brussels. 

Since then they have been waiting there for information on whether they will get a visa. 

The family connected with the Elliott family in Ipswich via a Facebook 'matching' group.

And since then Jonathan Elliott and his family have been preparing for their arrival.

The family moved into their home during lockdown but soon found it seemed too big for their family of three.

The Elliott family, Rachel, Jonathan and their son Noah, are going to be hosting a family of Ukraini

The Elliott family, Rachel, Jonathan and their son Noah, are going to be hosting a family of Ukrainian refugees. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Elliott said: "We’ve been wanting for some time to get more people in our house while we’re living here. When the Ukrainian crisis started, it was an obvious thing for us to welcome refugees.” 

After he posted on social media, many people in Ipswich offered to help.

He said: “When people heard about what we were doing, they came forward and started asking how they can contribute. My experience is that everybody wants to do a good thing and help.

"I got a lot of replies from people offering all kinds of things. I've got one man whose son wants to give his toys. I have a lady who wants to give her garage for storage. Another lady, who is half-Ukrainian herself and also hosts a Ukrainian family, offered moral support and a welcome to the family.

"We’ve been offered clothes. My wife, Rachel, works for the NHS and her colleagues have been donating clothes for the children.”