• Sun. May 19th, 2024

Ukrainian refugee pleads for new home with four pet dogs as scheme expires


Oct 7, 2022

A woman who escaped from war-torn Ukraine has made a desperate plea for help to find a new home for herself and her four dogs.

Anfisa Vlasova, 41, from eastern Ukraine, came to the area in May after fleeing from the Russian military invasion.

Since then, she’s been living in the village of Gallowstree Common near Caversham with a child-free retired couple and two of their own dogs.

Ms Vlasova was rehomed as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, where people in the UK host Ukrainian refugees to live in their own homes for a minimum of six months.

But now the scheme is expiring and she has been told to move on with her four Yorkshire terriers Nora, Betty, Daisy and Teddy.

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Ms Vlasova explained: “I’ve been living with a host family.

“They’ve accommodated me for the six months but they’re not willing to keep me there.

“It depends on the people. Some people would like to extend one year, unfortunately my host is not willing.”

Remarkably, Ms Vlasova has fled war twice, once from Donetsk in 2014, and again from Kharkiv this year.

In 2014, she fled when the Donetsk People’s Republic was declared, which sparked an occupation of the area by Russian forces and skirmishes between the Russian army, separatists, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

She said: “In 2014 I simply escaped from occupation. In Kharkiv there was very heavy shelling in the area where I rented my flat.

“I was expecting this war to finish, I didn’t expect it to get worse.”

Ms Vlasova and her four dogs were rescued from Kharkiv by The Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM) on Thursday, April 7.

They were taken to Poland and stayed in a hotel paid for by Jakub and Gosia Golata, a Polish couple who rented out one hotel to help Ukrainian refugees.

She was then rehomed to Gallowstree Common on Tuesday, May 10.

Ms Vlasova has so far been unsuccessful in finding somewhere else to live.

As she is currently looking for work she wants to stay around the Reading area.

She said: “I would like to stay in Reading, because I already know this place. It’s so difficult to adjust. I have managed to adjust so I would like to stay here.

“I’m looking for another host family or a pet-friendly landlord to rent from.

“It can be shared, as I know other Ukrainians who need housing so we can share together.

“I’m up for any of these options as long as it’s in Reading.”

But she said: “From my side I’ve already visited all the churches, left my contact details with the priests and have got in touch with agencies.

“I’ve also made posts on all Facebook groups I can get on.

“From my side it’s been a huge job but I still haven’t had any success yet.”

As things stand, Ms Vlasova and her pets are due to leave their host house on Thursday, November 10.

Gallowstree Common is under South Oxfordshire District Council’s (SODC) jurisdiction.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We have been working closely with partner organisations, including other councils and the voluntary sector in assisting Mrs Vlasova to find suitable accommodation for her to move into from November.

“We continue to discuss the housing options and financial support available for Mrs Vlasova and will do what we can to find her and her dogs another home.”

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A spokesperson for Reading Borough Council said: “The refugee in question found accommodation in South Oxfordshire through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, but her current sponsor there has chosen not to continue as a host through the scheme.

“She subsequently requested help with rematching from Reading Borough Council on September 26, but despite attempts to find an alternative Reading host through our own Homes for Ukraine scheme, we have been unable to find one who would be willing to accommodate her with her four dogs.

“We have advised her that she should approach SODC, through whom she made her existing arrangements, to rematch her or provide her with alternative options.”

The Homes for Ukraine scheme is still open.

Ukrainian refugees can receive support from the Reading Ukrainian Community Centre.

Refugees also have access to benefits and employment through the Department of Work and Pensions.

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