Baby Basics UK helps a Ukrainian family find safety in UK
When Russian rockets destroyed nearby homes in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Iryna made the heartbreaking decision to flee her homeland. Leaving her husband and 2 adult sons behind, she and her 2-year-old daughter Lera began a long journey to safety.
Iryna said, “I was torn between wanting to protect my little girl and leaving the family I love behind. It was frightening, but I had to make that decision. I was unhappy to leave, but felt we would be protected in this country.”
After travelling by train through Poland, Iryna and Lera reached the safety of the UK on 12th June 2022. They were taken in by Karen Hewitt, 54, and her partner David, 55, who welcomed them into their 3-bedroom home in Reading.
Karen, who runs a health and safety leadership consultancy, said, “After watching coverage of the war, we really wanted to do something. We decided we had room for a mother and a child, and felt Iryna and Lera would be a really good fit.”
Although Karen’s daughter, Mila, 2, was used to being an only child, she welcomed Lera with open arms. Karen said, “After just a day, the girls were running around like they’d known each other for years. They’re both soaking up the other’s language and we’re hoping we’ll be able to take Mila to Ukraine in a few years where she’ll probably surprise us by being fluent.”
While the families have integrated brilliantly, Iryna had a problem: she left Ukraine with just a tiny baby buggy and a single suitcase containing a few clothes. Fortunately, The National Lottery-funded project Baby Basics UK, which provides women and families with essential equipment for babies and kids, such as car seats, clothing, pushchairs and toys, came to her aid.
It was Karen who made contact with Baby Basics UK. She said, “We filled in a form telling them what we needed, and were absolutely amazed when a guy knocked on the door carrying these big boxes filled with things for Lera.
“Iryna was so surprised, and kept asking: ‘Is this for me?’ When you find yourself in a different place, it’s the practical things that can help you achieve some kind of normality, so it’s really helped them to settle in.”
Among the items Iryna received from Baby Basics UK were a car seat, a new pushchair and an autumn wardrobe for Lera. The 2 families have already used the car seat for visits to National Trust houses, and are planning a trip to the seaside.
Iryna said, “To get the bits from Baby Basics UK was amazing. “Lera likes new clothes almost more than she likes new toys – she’s a real princess! I was very surprised and grateful, and have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown to me in this country.”
Projects like Baby Basics UK get the support they need thanks to you, National Lottery players. This September, The National Lottery is delighted to be supporting The Sun's Who Cares Wins Awards, which shine a light on other brilliant health projects up and down the country.
2nd September 2022
The National Lottery has been changing the lives of winners and supporting good causes across the UK since 1994. In that time, there have been more than 7,000 new millionaires created and by playing The National Lottery you raise over £30 million for good causes every week.Discover more