A MAN from Chesham with background in crisis management is setting up a hub to help Ukrainian refugees and their host families in Bucks.  

After weeks of volunteer work in eastern Poland with his step-dad, Nicolai Thomson, originally from New Zealand, wanted to help to make the hosting of refugee families better for everyone involved.

He has been able to meet families in Poland waiting for their visas to the UK to be approved, and answer questions potential hosts might have.

Mr Thomson said: "I've become well acquinted with the infamous UK immigration system. 

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“I attend Kings Church Amersham and we have three families that are registered to be hosts.

"I reached out via OurChesham and found a further four.

“Chesham and Amersham can be a hub to support hosts and facilitate connections between the Ukrainian families here.

Bucks Free Press: Refugee centre in Warsaw, an awful reality for displaced families (Credit: Nicolai Thomson)Refugee centre in Warsaw, an awful reality for displaced families (Credit: Nicolai Thomson)

In three months time, the hub, which will inform setting up similar hubs in Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Norfolk, will provide Sunday lunches for families, meet ups, baby and toddler groups and assist refugees with school places.

What questions and anxities do hosts and potential hosts have? 

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He said: "My house or room is too small or not nice enough - standards need to be high to be welcoming but Ukrainian families want to stay together, not in multiple rooms.

"People have anxiety about sharing passport info for the matching service.

"Food and power cost increases are popular too. Government is contributing £350 a month to cover.

"Length of time is main reason to say no - 3 year visa is a long time! Most Ukrainians will go home - husbands and fathers are there, not in England."

During his stay in Poland in Przemysl, he was shocked to see the lack of big aid organisation on site at the refugee registration centre. 

Most people he met wanted to go home, and Mr Thomson believed "many we host will return when Russia is not firing missiles."