The managing director of cruise agency Vision Cruise has taken in a Ukrainian family who fled the country when their home was bombed.
Andrew Runacres and his wife Lisa are housing a family of five at their home in Formby, after they agreed they wanted to do something to help people affected by the ongoing war.
Despite only expecting to take in three people, Runacres heard there was a family of five hoping to be housed together and decided he had enough space in his home to accept them all.
The couple were vetted by the council and given just one day’s notice that the family would be arriving – which happened while Runacres was on board the inaugural celebrations of Celebrity Beyond, so he missed their arrival.
Natallia, 42, Yana, 23, Zoryana, 11, Danilo, 4, and Milana, 18 months, moved in on April 26, and now live with the couple and their 23-year-old daughter.
Runacres said: “When Lisa and I saw what was going on in Ukraine we felt strongly that we wanted to do something to help, so we spoke to a friend of ours who was communicating with volunteers in Poland and coordinated taking in a family.
“It has been lovely having the five of them around and we are really enjoying their company. They don’t speak any English so we are using the internet to translate so we can have conversations, but it doesn’t bother anyone.
“My daughter has been really good with them and my son has done a lot of research to try and help them get settled. We’ve got an eight-month-old granddaughter who comes round and they love to play with her.
“They’re also connecting with other Ukrainians who are staying with host families so it’s great that they’re building their own community.”
The family arrived with just a few bags as they didn’t have many personal belongings since their home was destroyed. Runacres said his family and friends had generously donated some of their own belongings, and some local companies had offered their support.
He said: “They came here with hardly any stuff as their home just outside of Kyiv was destroyed by a bomb, so we wanted to help them get some more things.
“A lot of our friends and family have been generous with clothes and toys, and then some big companies have even done their bit to help out.
“Our next-door neighbour works for Adidas and he got them all some new trainers, and my daughter works for Matalan who donated loads of clothes. It’s been wonderful to see the generosity people have offered.”
The Ukrainian family are staying with the Runacres for a minimum of six months, after which they may move into their own home.
Runacres said: “When we agreed to take them in, the government said it wanted us to do it for a minimum of six months, so we’ll certainly have them for that long.
“If things haven’t been sorted by then for them to move somewhere else, then we are happy to let them stay for longer. We just want to make sure they’re self-sufficient.”