Sisters We Need to Talk..

About Men

As you all know our Facebook community group is only open to women. That was and is a conscious choice to ensure as far as possible that the group was a space where women needing help could seek it without being subject to the lewd messages and unwanted advances that many of our Ukrainian sisters have face when posting in other groups.

The decision to make the group women only was never about being anti men. Our volunteer coordinators help men too, most commonly as part of family groups and couples, but occasionally also solo men. We also at times work with male hosts where it’s appropriate, most commonly for couples or families with men included.

Why? Because we aren’t anti men, we never have been, and we know it’s “not all men” that create the issues we were formed to address.

We are currently extremely short of hosts and our team are facing a further complication that many hosts are refusing to accommodate men. So the volunteer team wanted to address this issue…..

We all know martial law is in force in Ukraine and most men 18-60 are prohibited from leaving the country. However, there are exemptions; medical exemptions, exemptions for men with multiple kids or partners/kids with medical problems, students at overseas universities, while others were out of the country when the war started.

But whatever the reason Ukrainian men are looking to come to the UK at the present time the UK Ukraine visa system doesn’t discriminate in any way. And nor do we.

As a group we made a decision not to judge and what we’d ask you as potential sponsors to do is to do the same.

We fully understand some sponsors have personal reasons they aren’t able or willing to invite unknown men into their homes. However, not infrequently we’re finding sponsors saying no on the basis of “well isn’t he supposed to be fighting”, without even speaking to the guest(s) to understand if he may in fact have a permitted reason to leave the country.

At the weekend a male sponsor asked me what would happen when the young man he’d spoken to arrived here, this young man having been working in Poland immediately before the war. He said, probably accurately, that this young man would be asked why he wasn’t fighting and he, as sponsor, would likely be asked too. I gave him the best answer I could but afterwards asked my husband what answer he’d give.

This is my husband’s reply “I’d say it wasn’t for us to judge. Most blokes will think of what they’d do in that situation and many will reply they’d go home to fight but the reality is none of us know until we are in that situation what we would actually do and most of us worry we wouldn’t actually go home at all. So I’d say ” it’s not for us to judge because which of us knows what we’d do”.

When asked what he’d want our son to do he gave, what I think would be almost every parent’s answer, that he’d unequivocally want him to stay out of the country.

I should end this story by saying this sponsor, who initially said he’d sleep on it, responded the next day to say he would have this couple and had their visas application completed before 3.30pm on Monday.

Another of our volunteers husband was discussing the question said simply “I’d thank God I was exempt”.

So we’d ask would be sponsors to stop and reflect. On what you’d do. On what you’d wish if it were your child since all these men are someone’s child as well as often being husbands and fathers.

And we’d ask you to think about whether generosity and kindness are worth the name if they are withheld on the basis someone is not willing to die for Ukraine irrespective of their personal circumstances or beliefs.

I have the greatest of faith in this community. We have done a great deal, a great deal more than many will be aware, and a great deal more than is discussed.

I believe we can pull together, putting aside disagreements and judgement to do a great deal more to ensure as many of our Ukrainian sisters and brothers as possible are physically and mentally safe.

Finally a word to our Ukrainian sisters because we know how difficult it is to see men here when your own sons, husbands and fathers are not. We can only ask you not to judge. The scheme allows men to come to the UK. Our simple desire is to help as many of your countrymen and women as possible find safety. We will help your loved ones too, as and when that’s possible, if you wish it.

"Sisters we need to talk about..." Is a series of discussion topics hosted by Sunflower Sisters on their private community group on Facebook.  The group is open to ladies only and is a support group for both sponsors and guests, you can take part in the debate by joining our private community homepage by clicking the button below.

This topic was originally debated on Facebook on 29/07/2022